If by chance, you're anything like me, born in the 1970s with a bit of a hippy mother who was constantly searching for "spiritual truth" then you may have come across the poems of famous Lebanese author Kahil Gibran. If not, you might have stumbled across one of his most famous poems on children. You know that one that goes, your children are not your own, and makes archer arrows metaphors etc.

I was thinking about Kahil Gibran today because, I was thinking about my mother and my mother in-law.

So I googled Kahil and found his poem on eating and drinking

Would that you could live on the fragrance of the earth, and like an air plant be sustained by the light.
But since you must kill to eat, and rob the newly born of its mother's milk to quench your thirst, let it then be an act of worship.

And let your board stand an altar on which the pure and the innocent of forest and plain are sacrificed for that which is purer and still more innocent in man.

When you kill a beast say to him in your heart,
"By the same power that slays you, I too am slain; and I too shall be consumed.
For the law that delivered you into my hand shall deliver me into a mightier hand.
Your blood and my blood is naught but the sap that feeds the tree of heaven."

And when you crush an apple with your teeth, say to it in your heart,
"Your seeds shall live in my body,
And the buds of your tomorrow shall blossom in my heart,
And your fragrance shall be my breath,
And together we shall rejoice through all the seasons."

And in the autumn, when you gather the grapes of your vineyards for the winepress, say in your heart,
"I too am a vineyard, and my fruit shall be gathered for the winepress,
And like new wine I shall be kept in eternal vessels."
And in winter, when you draw the wine, let there be in your heart a song for each cup;
And let there be in the song a remembrance for the autumn days, and for the vineyard, and for the winepress.

In most traditional meat eating cultures there has often co-existed a spiritual element of giving thanks for one's meal. Respectful gratitude to the animal that gave its life, to the environment that nurtured it. The brutality of killing is offset with ritual thanks to the gods, nature and other magical beings. In some cultures certain tribes held specific animals as totems of their tribe which they did not eat. Others had elaborate rules and laws surrounding when and what to hunt, it was often interspersed with animistic beliefs.

Being thankful and grateful for ones food is something that most westerner's threw out the when they went secular. The tradition of saying grace before a meal ended. But did we throw out the proverbial baby with the bath water. Should we bring back a secular form of "grace" to ensure we remain respectful and grateful to the environment and people which produced food of any sort of which we are fortunate enough to find upon our plates?


    You raise an interesting point. Rituals are a good thing, wherever they're from, for making you feel and/or think.

    I have a friend, child of psychologists who grew up in the American Midwest, who was baptized in a "secular baptism." No religion at all. I questioned this, my thinking was that baptism being inherently religious. But he explained that they performed the ritual in order to recognize and seal the relationships between him and his "godparents" (for lack of a secular term for this relationship). I thought that was a nice idea too...


    lovely poem..

    esp the apple-teeth-crushing bit


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