WorshipWeb: Braver/Wiser: A Weekly Message of Courage and Compassion

Nourishing Our Whole Selves

By Aisha Ansano

“The difference between a good meal and a great meal is time—how long we linger at the table—whether it be a special occasion or a Sunday supper of leftovers. To break our schedule as we break bread is an opening for the Spirit.”
—Milton Brasher-Cunningham, Keeping the Feast: Metaphors for the Meal

From above, a person sits at a patio table, reading an open book

It had been a long week, and I was so. tired. After being cooped up at work all day, my partner and I decided to take a walk to a local burger place to grab some tasty food that didn’t require much work on our part. As we were getting ready to walk out the door, I realized that what I really wanted to do, more than anything, was to eat a burger and fries while I read my book...but that felt a little rude, given that I was headed to dinner with my partner who I hadn’t seen all day, and who I really enjoy spending time with.

But I also did really want to read my book.

So, despite the fact that it went against all the conventions of politeness, I told him that what I really want to do was go out to dinner with him and then completely ignore him while I immersed myself in the novel I was reading. And because he totally gets me, he agreed, and we traipsed down to get burgers, my book in my hand.

Audio of "Nourishing Our Whole Selves"

Listen to Rev. Aisha Ansano read her reflection.

I could have, of course, come home to read my book after dinner, in the quiet of my own house, on my comfy couch, under a blanket—which might sound like the perfect reading environment. But ever since I was a kid, lingering over a meal with my book has felt like a luxurious experience. There is something magical about not having to leave the table as soon as I finish eating, about prolonging the experience of the meal and just doing something indulgent.

And reading while I eat is a specific pleasure for me, differing from lingering at the table in conversation. The joy of reading nourishes my soul and mind in a distinct way that feels particularly satisfying, and combining that with the physical nourishment of my body refreshes and rejuvenates my entire being.

I can’t tell you what I ate that night, or what I read, but the feeling of sitting in the restaurant with my book has stuck around.

Spirit of Life, help us to remember that our souls and minds need sustenance as much as our physical bodies. May we delight in the ways we find to provide this nourishment to our whole selves. Amen.

About the Author

Aisha Ansano

Rev. Aisha Ansano believes in the spirituality of food, the power of community, and the importance of self-care. She is the affiliated community minister at First Parish in Malden (MA), and a co-founder of the dinner church consultancy Nourish.


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