A Rabbi once told me that keeping kosher (following Old Testament dietary laws) made him think about God every time he prepared food. I like that. We say grace before meals to acknowledge God as the source of our daily bread.
At the same time, I thought the Old Testament dietary laws were health-related. The timeless lesson being that we watch what we eat to optimize our health so we can honor God with our bodies. I now realize that there is more to it than that.
As a soldier and competitive athlete my relationship with food had always been performance based. I knew how to get the right amount and type of calories for my body. If my body fat percentage or blood chemistry was out of range, a few adjustments would get me back on track.
However, a healthy diet and exercise has not prevented me from deadly health related diseases. In 2009, a section of my colon had to be removed following an attack of diverticulitis that perforated my colon. That year I was diagnosed with diabetes (family history). Over the last year my diabetes and high blood pressure required greater amounts of medication and, last week, I had quintuple coronary by-pass surgery. Factors other than diet and exercise have been at play.
Early one morning I was making breakfast while the rest of the house slept. I do everything in slow motion these days so I was mindful of my movements. I gathered my ingredients and utensils in silence with the care given a Japanese Tea Ceremony. I recalled the health benefits of each ingredient as I mixed my super-healthy oatmeal together. I ate slowly and with gratitude, not only for the healthy breakfast but, also, for the health to prepare it.
We eat to live but Jesus said, “It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone...'” (Matthew 4:4)
Jesus reminds us of the connection to the God who sustains us. Meal times, whether we eat in community or solitude, offer an opportunity to slow down and remember the connection between our physical and spiritual needs. Life (animal or plant) gives life and labor (ours and that of others) placed a meal before us. Our physical health is improved when we are mindful not only of what we eat but how.
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life.
Whoever comes to me will never go hungry,
and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”
John 6:35 (NIV)