Today the children decided that they should butcher one of their stuffed animals and make stew out of it (it was a rabbit). They did this with great gusto and imaginative detail and I filmed part of it and posted it on Facebook so their aunts could enjoy it. Another friend commented that we obviously weren’t vegetarians and I said “no”. She then responded that her grandfather had been a butcher and she thought it had scarred her for life. Other people have also brought up the question of the effect on the children of butchering and similar activities (and some of their games can be a bit graphic). I think about this from time to time and I think what it really comes down too is this: we don’t just take life/butcher and go on, we celebrate our food and our preparing of it, and the enjoyment of it. The pig we butchered two years ago and preserved as sausage or bacon is still an important part of our lives. We know it and the children know it. They see that we appreciate the steps necessary to provide us with three kinds of bacon and the gastronomic experience that we get from having those things in the freezer. They know how much labor goes into any of the meat we eat because they help and they know that what we eat is more than just food to us.
And that brings me to the title of this post: do we eat because otherwise we would die? Or do we eat because that is how we celebrate and observe the sacredness of life? For Christians the central symbol of our oneness with God and each other is a meal, and not any ordinary meal but a meal that acknowledges sacrifice, amazing life altering history changing sacrifice. Most of the time I think we don’t get that even at our most important ceremonial meals (and most religions have them). And if we don’t get it when we are at our most intentioned (in the midst of a religious setting) how can we possibly get it when we eat breakfast in the morning?
When we go to sip that cup of coffee or tea do we say deep within ourselves “I am sustaining my body and soul with this drink.” Do we bring a sacramental attitude to the most mundane things that we do?
Our lives are only sacred in practice if we recognize them as such and make them so. We must be mindful. We must understand that the things we do are HOLY things. We breathe to the glory of the creator. We sleep to the glory of the creator and we prepare food and eat it to the glory of the creator.