By Kristin Armstrong
It’s all too easy to give up our reverence for food. With three kids and sometimes six, I scramble at dinnertime. Some nights I feel like a short order cook, making several different versions of dinner to suit preferences or people who have tutors, sports practice, games, or piles of homework. I have nights where I’m sitting in traffic on my way back from graduate school, trying to figure out what I can call in and pick up on my way home.
Sometimes all I can swing is simply grilled cheese and a bowl of soup. Sometimes it’s sushi delivery. Sometimes it’s breakfast for dinner and we go to bed with our house smelling like bacon and maple syrup. Sometimes, when I really have my act together, I think ahead and prepare dinner early in the day. I love it when my kids get home before I do and the house smells like chicken potpie or a roast simmering in the crockpot.
The crockpot belonged to my grandmother, and I think of her whenever I use it. I try to remember how slow and easy time felt in her presence. She cooked three meals a day and always had something freshly baked to serve with coffee. My mom tells me that a homemade blueberry pie was a normal after school snack when she was growing up. These days, kids are lucky to get a bag of Goldfish crackers or Chick-fil-A in the car on the way to an activity.
There are some areas where I’m willing to acquiesce to the current of our culture. Dinnertime is not one of them.
My kids shovel cereal for breakfast while staring at their phones. They eat packed lunches at school. But dinner is mine. No matter what we’re eating, I want to eat it together. As often as humanly possible, I want to sit down at the same time around the same table. I want phones away. I want to say a prayer; it matters to me to bless my people and our food. We do “highs and lows” where each person talks uninterrupted, and tells us the best part of their day and the worst. It’s the only thing that has ever worked to get past the word “fine” or “boring” when I ask how their day was.
I know it doesn’t sound like much, but I am willing to fight for it.
My Bible study did a study called “Breathe” and the entire premise is about Sabbath. I used to think of Sabbath as another word for Sunday, the day you go to church. It frustrated me when my kids were little and Sabbath was stolen by sports and birthday parties. Why can’t we keep that on Saturday, people? It still frustrates me when Sabbath is robbed by sleepover residue and grumpy, tired children who have too much homework to do. In this study, I learned that Sabbath is Sunday, yes, but it can also be anytime we pause and cultivate reverence.
I complained to my boyfriend about the curse of busyness and the leftover scraps of time reserved for family and we decided that we are reclaiming Sunday. So now Sunday mornings we collect our sleepover children or send their friends home and we all meet at church. After church and lunch we go back to my house, so the kids can finish homework early and take a nap. Meanwhile, we pore over cookbooks on my kitchen island and make a list. Together we go to H-E-B and collect what we need for our Sabbath feast. We spend the afternoon chopping vegetables, marinating meat, opening wine, listening to music and sitting outside on the screened in porch. Sometimes we play cards. If it’s cold he makes a fire. Football or golf hums comfortably on the TV in the background. He grills and we make the sides. We recruit the kids to bake dessert or set the table. Then we all sit down together for a blessing and a round of highs and lows. We pause time and create Sabbath, reflecting on the week behind and resting for the week ahead. A new tradition is made, a stand taken against rush and restlessness.
Reverence is reclaimed by the healing power of food and family.
Illustration by Joy Gallagher
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