Nourishing Grace took the summer off…. and during that time I really reflected on the blog. All summer long I had this nagging thought to separate the Holistic Nutrition articles from the soul food. In August I started a blog called WellNourishedFamily.wordpress.com, but as of yet it is not public. It is in a state of migration and there is lots of tweaking going on at the moment.
In the coming weeks, the nutrition and health posts on this blog will be relocated over to my new blog “Well Nourished Family”, but Nourishing Grace will remain with the soul food of Orthodox Christian quotes from scripture, the Holy Fathers and also the occassional reflection. Future posts from Nourishing Grace will be integrated into the new website -maybe under the header “Beyond Calories”; however the food and holistic nutrition blog will not be incorporated here.
In the meantime, I offer this little food for thought. Faith is as much a part of health as food and exercise – that’s not radical.
In his book, For the Life of the World, Father Alexander Schmemman writes:
In the Bible the food that man eats, the world of which he must partake in order to live, is given to him by God, and it is given as communion with God. The world as man’s food is not something “material” and limited to material functions, thus different from, and opposed to, the specifically “spiritual” functions by which man is related to God. All that exists is God’s gift to man, and it all exists to make God known to man, to make man’s life communion with God.
It is divine love made food, made life for man.
God blesses everything He creates, and, in biblical language, this means that He makes all creation the sign and means of His presence and wisdom, love and revelation:
“O taste and see that the Lord is good.”
Recognizing that nourishment is beyond protein, carbohydrates, fats and fiber really isn’t edgy or new age.
With the mapping of the human genome, the field of epigenetics bears this out : that nourishment – the food we ingest – affects our gene expression. Additionally, the Harvard Medical School found that prayer induces immediate positive changes in gene expression . My recent class on detoxification listed “loss of Faith” as one of the reasons for the buildup of toxins in the body. Let me tell you, I noticed that one factor more than all the others …
Just as junk food causes good genes to behave badly – so does loss of faith, negativity and stressful situations – especially when prolonged. That kind of malnutrition affects health. That’s not theology, just data.
In that sense we can see that nourishment is more than what is on our plate. Integrative Medicine, modern as it is, recognizes the role of Faith in physical health, ancient as that is. We are what we eat in every sense of the phrase. Many turn to eastern philosophies, yoga, Buddhism in an attempt to find some spirituality and quell the hunger yet are still left with the pangs of malnutrition.
The Orthodox Christian Faith stands as a timeless beacon of wisdom, love, fullness and salvation. It’s the benevolent, girding substance of every day life, seeking communion with God, lifting up all we do to the Glory of God (1 Cor 10:31). We beseech God daily for our daily bread, the bread of the Kingdom of God, and nourishment for our soul. Salvation is not about the quality of our physical food, but people – working out their salvation in the Church.
And I think that is why I decided to separate the blog. I wouldn’t want someone confusing meal plans with repentance, good complex carbs with salvation or that somehow having a well balanced diet is going to make one a better person. These are matters of the heart. Health has many implications, and there are doctors trained in the world of spiritual therapy and operation (spiritual fathers and mothers and some priests), I do not claim to possess any wisdom of my own – just a family’s life experiences – especially the trials – channeled through our walk of Faith in the Orthodox Church – that, and I can also tell you how to make a really good salad and awesome gluten free pancakes that your family will actually want to eat!
The Orthodox Faith permeates the lives lived within her, through God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and the teachings of the Holy Fathers, participation the the Divine services and partaking of the Eucharist, lives are transformed.
That’s good stuff…!
With that I will leave you with one more thought from Father Alexander Schmemman.
“Food is still treated with reverence. A meal is still a rite—the last “natural sacrament” of family and friendship, of life that is more than “eating” and “drinking.” To eat is still something more than to maintain bodily functions. People may not understand what that “something more” is, but they nonetheless desire to celebrate it.
They are still hungry and thirsty for sacramental life.”
I hope that all makes sense. Many blessings to you, your families and those you love… and please excuse the construction.
Shanahan MD, Catherine (2011-04-22). Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food (p. 4).