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The sharing of a meal may be the fundamental sacred act. From the sacrament of Holy Communion in the Christian churches, to the placing of food in the begging bowl of the Buddhist monk, and in countless other expressions in cultures around the world, human beings practice ritual eating as a way of honoring and celebrating their connectedness with the community, its ancestors, the earth and its plant and animal life, the cosmos, and what lies beyond it. At the same time, these acts of heightened reverence give resonance to the everyday meal around the family table. Simple prayers of thankfulness and practices of mindfulness at mealtime reinforce the awareness that all life is holy and that we exist in interdependent relation with that which is not us. This awareness transforms eating, from a mere act of material consumption to participation in a vast, mysterious, and ultimately trustworthy order of existence, and nourishes the soul and spirit as well as the body.

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