I've been pondering and thinking and reflecting trying to come up with what would be a fitting and appropriate word for the year.
One thing I really want to do this year is master our family's menu, diet, and nutritional agenda. We make some things at home sometimes, sometimes we buy them. Sometimes we are better with our eating, sometimes we aren't.
Well, after 4 pregnancies in 6 years, I've packed on too many pounds. Sometimes it seems like we run into ruts with our meals. And sometimes the girls can act like very picky eaters.
It might sound like a small thing or a minor thing but I really feel like our family's menu is more haphazard than it should be. Part of that is simply my ignorance and part my laziness, but it is really something that should change. I'm already committed to beginning a much-needed diet by July/August but it needs to be more than that. It needs to be a lifestyle and mindset change.
Of course, how exactly does that fit in with a word for the year or a spiritual focus?
When most people think of food and the spiritual, the word gluttony comes to mind. Of course the opposite of that would be temperance, the virtue of properly regulating our actions and desires concerning pleasurable activities.
But I'm not just looking to not overeat or over indulge. I'm looking for more than that.
Well, whenever I am dealing with the subject of food, there is one Scripture passage I always think of. It is in the Gospel according to John after Jesus has spoken to the woman at the well and she has called all the people to come see the man who knew all she had done and might be the Messiah. The disciples then urge Jesus to eat but He replies, "I have food to eat of which you do not know." (Jn 4:32) And when the disciples don't understand and speculate if someone else brought him something to eat, He says, "My food is to the do the will of the one who sent me and to finish his work." (Jn 4:34)
Jesus isn't hungry for food. Why? Because his spirit is so overjoyed with all the people coming to God through His mission. The will of God IS His food. It is the real sustenance of his very being. Of course Jesus ate physical food in his life as well, but it is clear in this passage how far down his list of importance it was. His Father's Will was so much more important than eating food that He could stop feeling hungry from the sheer joy of God's Will and souls returning to the Father.
Food, though pleasurable, is ultimately for the nutritional sustenance of our bodies. That is the healthy way to view food. Though it is easy to get side-tracted or even distracted by some of the tempting, indeed even wonderful things people have learned to do with food, it is that healthy understanding of food I'm looking for. I'm not looking to put us all on an austere, dull diet or cut out anything in its entirety. But rather have a proper understanding of food for our family, a varied and nutritious diet, and a gratitude for the food we have.
In order for that understanding to be correct, it has to be nutritious and it can't be over-indulgent. Nutritious is not as easy as it used to be with the amount of preservatives, fillers, etc. they put in "foods" now. There are a number of things I want to learn how to make myself at home and I don't mean using box mixes or high fructose corn syrup. I want my children to appreciate a variety of foods. And I want us all to be healthy in our bodies but also in our minds and spirits in terms of how food can effect them.
Jen is not the first person to notice a correlation between a healthy attitude towards food and a healthy prayer life. Self-control is a learned habit. Practicing it with regards to food makes it easier to practice it in every other aspect of our lives. Putting food in it's proper place helps us keep our view of God in its proper place. I knew one priest who used to always say that if anyone was having trouble with chastity, they should fast. The reinforcement of self-denial of food strengthened the person's own will and self-control in general. Gratitude is another virtue practiced by appreciating the food in front of you even if it isn't the best meal you've ever had or exactly what you are in the mood for or craving. Temperance, of course, is another virtue that can grow with a proper view of food.
So food plays an integral part in life beyond merely sustaining us physically. Our approach to food can effect our mental state both in terms of the vitamins and minerals we are getting as well as the priority we are placing on food. It also effects our spiritual state in terms of our focus, our priority, and just what direction our heart is aimed.
No, Temperance would not do as a word for the year. Good word as it is, it isn't enough.
(You can see why figuring our which word would be good enough took me a little while.)
But is there a single word that would be appropriate for such a focus? Maybe it is my "baby brain" but I can only think of one. To focus myself on the important reality that we need proper nourishment for our bodies, our minds and our souls, my word for the year is EUCHARIST.
The Eucharist is the nourishment of our souls. The Eucharist is the heart of our worship. It is the union of our humanity and His divinity. It is the meal at which we as a Church and we as a family gather with the true understanding of what is important, what our purpose is and to whom we are going. I can think of no better word to encompass all that I want this year to be about.
Almost as a hint to me, a couple of weeks ago I began really missing Adoration. I got to go once or twice in the last year, but it is not something I get to do often with three little ones. I can't think of a better New Years' resolution than to get to Adoration more often. I'm not sure exactly how that will work yet but our parish does have it twice every month and while I do have 3, soon to be 4, little ones, I think Cecilia might be mature enough to go sometime. She will sometimes simply stop what she is doing and say a prayer. Maybe introducing her to Eucharistic Adoration should be another resolution for this year.
In conclusion, I hope everyone has a very grace-filled 2011 and whatever goal, resolution, or word you have chosen for yourself will bear great fruits for you and those you love.