Family Meal = Family Center

Welcome to the new blog for Spirit & Place! In 2010 we celebrate the theme Food for Thought through a multitude of partnerships and programs. Visit www.spiritandplace.org to check out the latest info and stay tuned to our new blog for lots of views and voices on the topic of food!

Food is a BIG deal in our house. Not just because we gotta eat, but because the family meal is a daily point of connection. Though we may arrive home tired and stressed, the house is soon filled with the aroma of cooking food, prepared lovingly and skillfully by my husband, Eric. He was an executive chef for many years in Pittsburgh and Indianapolis and has been the primary cook in our family for the last 15 years. (Yes, I am lucky!)

While he is busy with preparations, our two daughters set the table with cheery Mary Englebreit dinnerware – those festive little teapots around the edge of the plates always make me smile. We all then sit down as a pan of sizzling-something comes to the center of the kitchen table. Last night it was pork chops with red cabbage and potatoes. Mmmmm.

And this next moment may be my favorite. We pause, often holding hands, as each person gives thanks. Sometimes the gratitude is for a special person or circumstance, sometimes for the immense web of people that brought the food to our table. Always, there is gratitude for the Holy One, for the earth, and for the hands we are holding.

After dinner, the girls clear the table and I do the dishes. I mean, I really DO them…wash ‘em up by hand. Yeah, I could afford to buy a dishwasher, but this daily ritual has become a sort of meditation. I look out the kitchen window, marking the changes in the flower garden and looking for butterflies.  Washing dishes is a small task that helps me slow down and take notice.

As the girls grow and our lives get ever busier, slowing down is getting harder. Some days, dinnertime is sacrificed to make space for our separate activities. Too many days like this find us grumpy and short-tempered with each other. Missing out on meals together means we rob ourselves of a golden opportunity to witness and support one another’s journey.

For the Hinkle household, the family meal is a critical communion that sustains both body and spirit. It invites us to share stories and laughter, calls us toward our collective center, and beckons us into deeper relationship.  

What’s your family dinner like?

Pam Blevins Hinkle, Spirit & Place Director

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2 thoughts on “Family Meal = Family Center

  1. With two busy teenagers and a husband who is at the fire station every third day, it’s tough to have a traditional family dinner. We often end up at the coffee table, eating in front of a prerecorded TV program. At least we talk about what we’re watching, and after a particularly good episode of “Boston Legal,” that could be the death penalty or what happens after the first little lie is told.

    But when we can all sit around the table, it’s wonderful.

    My husband cooks, too, great gourmet meals I wouldn’t begin to know how to make. (Tonight, for example, since he’s at the firehouse, we’re having frozen hamburgers on the grill with macaroni and cheese.) Maybe the infrequency of our home-cooked meal get-togethers makes them that much more special. Our kids might remember me putting them to bed when they were little or helping with their homework, but I’m certain that when they catch a whiff of a beautifully roasted chicken, even when they are my age, they will remember the love and care their father put into the meals he made for them.

  2. My husband and I enjoy cooking gourmet foods at home – for ourselves and friends. We like cooking Italian food in particular – it reminds us of our international travels. I must admit that using herbs and vegetables from our garden is our favorite way to cook!

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