The Food in Life and the Life in Food
Nikki Holdridge / The Falls Church Fellows Program
1 May 2017
I love food. I love to eat food. I love to work with food but I think most of all I like to see food as my partner in serving, caring for and bringing delight to those I love. It brings me so much joy to work with all the beautiful, flavorful, abundant and edible things on this earth. I am always the one that stops when cutting up fruit salad and points out the beauty in what we’re dealing with. Like why is it so gorgeous?? The colors in a watermelon. A kiwi. Honeydew. Cantaloupe. It’s so pretty. But my appreciation goes much further than observation. I have often said to people that my love language is food, not so much on a receiving end, but a giving. I love making people feel cared for, thought of and appreciated through food. This most likely stemmed from observing and helping my Mom in the kitchen, the room she is in at least 70% of her waking hours (besides the barn). For my parents, food was always this sweet interaction. She could have made hot dogs, and my Dad would say, “That was perfect, hunny. Hit the spot. Just what I needed.” My Mom often muttered (and Dad agreed), “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.
That being said, this book was one of the first times I thought of food as something not only He created, but cares about. Which is kind of silly now that I think about it. When has he ever abandoned or stopped caring for something once is was created? Never. That is usually just the beginning. I don’t think plants and animals have the place we do, but He certainly valued them enough to place them in our care. Just look at my family’s livelihood. After all the work we do in the field, tractors we fix, stalls that we clean and animals we care for, the only thing we really have to show for it is that bulk tank full of milk in the morning. Producing food really is our purpose and sustainer, and now I see that in a different light. We aren’t just producing a fuel that keeps the machines (humans) alive and operating. Joining God in the caring for and creation of food is sacramental.
Now I’ll admit, I had to look up the meaning of sacrament (and maybeee even eucharist, I’m the worst, I know). But upon calling Annie Monson and hearing her definition, it made a lot of sense that Dr. Garber would ask us this question. I see it now as taking the ordinary things of life and seeing them as something that has a meaning, value or purpose to God far beyond face value. Bringing holy to seemingly normal. Like Schmemann said, when we see things that have life as just a means, it takes all life from them. Aren’t these the questions we have been asking all year long? How all stories are part of one bigger story? How the meta-narrative makes sense of all narratives? So yes, food is one of those things that has a rightful place among the Lord’s table. He cares about it. He uses it for His purposes. And just like all things on this broken planet, we have done one of two things with it. We have taken it from that rightful place and either placed it higher than we ought or lower than we ought. Seeing food in a utilitarian way strips it of it’s God given life. But we don’t have to look very far to see how the enemy has twisted this good thing into a crushing God thing. I always used to watch my 600 pound life. There was always some pain or hurt at the cause, but the tool that had been used to wrap these people in chains was food. Mom’s couldn’t be Mom’s, Dad’s couldn’t be Dad’s and spouses couldn’t be spouses. These people wished to die because their lives seemed hopeless and unredeemable. Food was literally killing these people physically, emotionally, socially, psychologically and by all means spiritually.
This book has brought on a whole other purpose and meaning to viewing food as redemptive. It has power, it can heal and sustain. And it certainly is a part of restoring the kingdom that we should care about.