Recently I created and participated in a very simple but powerful modern day ritual.
In my previous blog post I outlined a course of action, suggested by a friend, to heal my relationship with my mother, and food, by preparing and eating a meal my mother made in my childhood that I enjoyed. Well, as strange as the whole scenario sounds, I finally made that meal and had the most incredible experience.
Having the house to myself one evening I decided to prepare the meal. I chose to go all out, even if it was just for me. I set the table with a lace tablecloth that was my Nana’s, used her Royal Dalton crockery and silver cutlery, and then lit a candle. It was gratifying to lay a table and go to some effort for myself. I was actually really excited and it felt special.
Cooking the meal was also a satisfying process. I took care with each step and enjoyed myself, rather than racing to get a meal together which usually happens on week nights. There was a feeling of expectation, of anticipation and joy.
When I sat down to eat I felt really honoured and loved to be sitting at a set table with elegant china and cutlery. After luxuriating in the feeling of being pampered and cared for and of course enjoying the wonderful meal, my thoughts turned to my mother. I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude toward her. I realised I was grateful to her for teaching me how to set a lovely table, for introducing me to a wonderful variety of foods. I felt gratitude toward her for all the experiences she allowed me to have while growing up; for working so hard and budgeting so well that my sisters and I could attend good schools, wear nice clothes, learn ballet, acrobatics and to play the guitar.
I was overwhelmed by the softening of my heart. I was now seeing my mother for the truly amazing woman she was – and still is. I could see her beauty, where I had failed to recognise it before. My heart felt full and as though it would burst with the emotion and love I was feeling.
My bitterness and resentment ebbed away during that meal and I was left only with love.
I have read about and heard lectures on unconditional love. I’m not sure I have ever known how to truly give love unconditionally. During that meal, I got a sense of what it is like. I was, and still am, simply overwhelmed by the feeling.
Why and how did this all come about? Several weeks ago a dear friend invited a small group of women to lunch to share their stories of their mothers. Over lunch we candidly discussed, recalled, and relayed the highs and lows of our relationships with our mothers both during childhood and the present. The stories were powerful. These relationships shaped us and while they were not all warm and positive we all felt a sense of peace from having shared our story without blame or judgement. We all left that luncheon having healed various wounds.
It was after his lunch conversation one of the participants suggested the next phase of the journey for me, was to heal my relationship with food and deepen the healing of my relationship with my mother.
I am staggered that the mere process of lovingly preparing, serving and eating a meal could have such a profound effect. I feel like I have shrugged off thirty years of angst, regret, bitterness, resentment and victimhood. I am simply glowing from the inside out.
Has my relationship with food changed? I enjoyed the meal immensely, cream and all. I realised, for me, food prepared and served with love and a little attention to detail is approached differently. I will continue to employ some simple rituals in planning, preparing, serving and enjoying food.
Where could ritual play a role in your life?