As the focal point of our lives, mealtimes reflect the nature of our shared lives. They are a central space for expressions of love, caring and affirmation through both the provision of nourishment and the conversation that surrounds a meal from preparation to clean-up. For those in explosive or damaged families, mealtimes often become arenas for accusation, blame, unbridled anger and painful absences. For those in need, scarcity at the table is a constant reminder of their economic plight.
In the ancient Eastern world, the symbolic and instructional reality of the table was exponentially expanded because the gathering and preparation of food was the day’s primary task. In Arabic, the root word for bread and life is the same (esh). This unbreakable link between the table and one’s survival was clear—a reality often forgotten in our fast-food-restaurant-on-every-corner world, where food appears on demand.