The Bonds of Breaking Bread

October 31 2016

With Thanksgiving coming this month, our hearts turn toward gathering with those we love while our minds turn toward food preparation. We can’t wait to visit with long distance relatives and we salivate at the thought of our favorite dishes. (My mouth is watering, thinking about crawfish etouffee served over creamy cornbread dressing!)

I’d like to encourage you to add deeper meaning to your Thanksgiving meal this year with the ancient tradition of breaking bread together. Finding its origin in biblical times, an invitation to “break bread” meant more than sharing a meal, it was an invitation to share your life with those at the dinner table. Breaking bread together was more about building relationships than the main course or dessert.  

When enemies break bread together, disputes are settled. Treaties are signed. Differences disappear when common ground is discovered in the humanity of hunger satisfied.  

Hearts are knit together when the bread is broken as a gesture to share all that we have to give. Disagreements among family members seem to dissipate as the beans are passed and the gravy is poured over hot biscuits.

It doesn’t matter if it’s an antique mahogany table for twelve in an elegantly-appointed dining room or a folding table in the corner of a tiny apartment, breaking bread together is about connectedness and conversation. It’s about asking the right questions that bring insightful answers.

New York Times Best-selling author of Bread & Wine, Shauna Niequist, writes: 

“We don’t come to the table to fight or to defend. We don’t come to prove or to conquer, to draw lines in the sand or to stir up trouble. We come to the table because our hunger brings us there. We come with a need, with fragility, with an admission of our humanity. The table is the great equalizer, the level playing field many of us have been looking everywhere for. The table is the place where the doing stops, the trying stops, the masks are removed, and we allow ourselves to be nourished, like children we allow someone else to meet our need. In a world that prides people on not going without, on powering through, the table is a place of safety and rest, where we are allowed to be as fragile as we feel. If the home is a body, the table is the heart…”

It shouldn’t just be Thanksgiving when you gather around the dinner table as a family. It doesn’t matter if you picked up McDonald’s on the way home. Let your children set the table while you prepare to talk about life. Studies show the more often families eat together, the less likely kids are to smoke, drink, do drugs, fall into depression, develop eating disorders and consider suicide. The more likely they are to do well in school, delay having sex, learn to eat vegetables, expand their vocabulary and adopt moral values that carry them into adulthood.

My hope is this Thanksgiving will be the start of something wonderful in our homes–a return to the dinner table to nourish our bodies and souls. A time of renewal and recommitment to building strong families that produce strong children who grow up to become strong leaders who “secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.”

When we learn to strengthen family bonds at the dinner table, we can, in turn, do the same thing in our communities…we can settle disputes and find common ground for building strong relationships that will withstand the trials and tribulations that come with life.

Enjoy a good meal and enjoy each other!

From my heart to yours,   

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