Mama Robin and the Blessing of Food

Like many this past spring and summer, I watched a couple of robin families nest and raise their babies.  As I kept my distance, I studied mama and papa robin taking turns, back and forth, finding food and taking it to the nest for the wobbly heads set precariously atop skinny, outstretched necks.

They worked really hard!

Watching them made me reflect on how much of our lives revolve around planning, shopping, cooking, and eating food.  And to do it in a way means something both physically and deep down in the heart and soul of a person?

It takes a lot of work!

Tonight, as we sat down to the amazing gift of dinner, fresh and delicious with summer vegetables, I was so happy and satisfied with my life.  Food, and the celebration of it with my family, gave me that sense of contentment and gratitude.

Yesterday, there was a story on the news about all the hungry kids in our country.  Millions of kids don’t have enough to eat.  This whole summer, kids have been hungrier than they are during the school year because they don’t get their free or reduced price school lunches.

Whatever you might think about this situation (I know people who resent the fact that they’re supposed to be responsible for someone else’s kid), we must remember that it’s not the child’s fault that they can’t be cared for the way that they should.  In many cases, it’s not the parents’ fault either.

The recession has brought tremendous economic stress to many.  When an absence of food becomes one of the ways that this stress is manifested, its harm is more than an empty belly.

But our government doesn’t seem to understand this.  “Last week, the particularly beleaguered Harry Reid tacked an amendment onto a jobs and education bill that would expand funding for teachers and increase federal matching funds for state Medicaid expenses but would pay for the spending by cutting food stamps” (http://www.dailykos.com/story/2010/8/4/17420/55139).

Cutting food stamps to pay for education and healthcare.  Food stamps.

My dad lost his job when I was a senior in high school.  I remember going to the store with my mom, watching her try to hide her food stamps from public view.  I shared her embarrassment, but this is what a mother does.  No matter the cost, she feeds her children and around the dinner table, there is grounding and connection and fulfillment.  Our dinners together were healing and provided a sense of normalcy amid the stress of my dad’s unemployment.

Many of us take food for granted.  We rush through our days and hurry through the drive-thru or order pizza and move on without considering all that food can do for us.  From its preparation to the sharing of our days with one another around a table, food happens and provides us opportunities for lots of health, learning, and unspoken but profound meaning.

That so many, for one reason or another, don’t or can’t find those moments, is a tragedy.  We must see the bounty that our food has to offer and resist the urge to deny it to those who likely need it most.

Eat and live well.

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