Spiritual night featured a meal containing all seven “sacred grains” : Barley, corn, oats, millet, rice, rye & wheat.
As we ate our sacred food, we listened to the food stories of four students of different spiritual traditions.
Catherine Landis, a Zen Buddhist, spoke of awareness as a theme of eating. She quoted a Zen master who says that if we are eating string beans and thinking about baseball, we are eating baseball. She spoke of the interconnected web of all living beings, and how our taking away from that web creates a desire to give back, to give thanks.
Yusef Abdul, a Muslim student, spoke of the significance of fasting in his tradition. He said that the purpose of fasting is to give you God-conciousness; to be aware of all of your actions–well beyond eating. He spoke of the theme of sacrifice, and of using the fasting season to focus on others who are forced to without every day.
Zoё Kouloiluis, from the Greek Orthodox tradition, wove together the themes of the two previous speakers as she talked about fasting in her faith and gratefully accepting food that was prepared with love even if it involves breaking the fast. She says that we use food to strengthen our souls.
Tiferet Sassona, a Jewish student, reminded us of the story of the Garden of Eden. She believes that our interaction with food is a way of fixing the mistake human kind made when Eve took an apple from the forbidden Tree of Knowledge. She told us about Jewish laws around food, including one that prohibits eating from a fruit-bearing tree for the first three years of its life, to remind us that we are not in control, as well as laws that encourage giving food to the poor, or growing extra of one’s personal crop so that the less fortunate might harvest it. She said that when saying a blessing before a meal, Jews are blessing God for the mean (not the food), to acknowledge the role of the divine. It is the role of food to bring us back to the divine.