The Psalmist sings, “The snares of death encompassed me; the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me; I suffered distress and anguish … I walk before the Lord in the land of the living.” (Psalm 116:3, 9)
It may seem odd to talk about what you eat at a funeral as a way of celebrating life, but at every level, that is exactly what it is. Nor do I mean a celebration in that cheery if faintly maudlin sense of giving someone a good send-off, though that is a part of it. Any food is a vital reminder that life goes on, that living is important. That isn’t brutal: it’s the greatest respect you can show to the dead …
There is another way food is important when someone has died: it marks a connection between the living. There is nothing you can say to someone who is bereaved that can make anything better and even the notion that you could make it better can feel offensive, even if the wish is declared out of kindness. But you can help, you can make food. And if you can’t cook, or haven’t got time, you can shop. The thing to remember in either case is never to burden the bereaved with a question: don’t ask what they’d like you to get or what they might want to eat. Decisions are impossible: you have to do it, and do it without drawing attention to the act. I remember a friend of mine leaving some bags of shopping from the supermarket for me once. She hadn’t told me she was going, she hadn’t asked what I needed: she just left the bags outside the side door with a short note. It was one of the kindest things anyone could have done. Ω
Reflect: When have you experienced a small kindness in the midst of suffering or grief? Is there somebody now who could use a bag of shopping, a meal or flowers quietly left at their door?
What is this? Lent is the 40 days, excluding Sundays, before Easter. Traditionally it is a time of reflection and pilgrimage. To help you on this journey, Sanctuary has put together 40 stories from people both within and beyond the congregation, with associated questions for reflection and prayer. A reading will be uploaded every day of Lent. This year’s theme is Fruit of the Spirit. Why? Read this. #Lent2022. Real People, Real Stories: 40 Readings for Lent © Sanctuary, 2022. From Nigella Lawson. Feast. Food That Celebrates Life. London: Chatto & Windus, 2004: 450-451.
Tools for the Journey
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