This Food Practice is an excerpt from the list of practices shared in the book Spring, Cultivate Life, an installment in the Food Practice Through The Seasons series. Each season contains a practice for each week of the season. 13 total. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION.
The year before Jon and I got married there were a lot of conversations between he and I and between friends and I that came up about love and what made a marriage, what vows really meant and what we, specifically, would create out of this ritual for ourselves.
Culturally, we have such ingrained notions of what marriage is that the concepts around it are automatic. We think of marriage and vows and instantly think about love, faithfulness, loyalty, commitment, forever. All of those words are deep and powerful, but only if we really sink into what they mean, which requires breaking past the habitual recitation we have all come to embody.
With that said, the word loyalty kept bugging me.
The Alignment Of Loyalty
You might be wondering what loyalty has to do with food and cooking, yes?
Honestly, it was never a word I used. It always conjured up conversations that held an ‘Us vs Them’ paradigm that I have never been in alignment with.
Because I was about to stand before someone and make vows, I looked at this word a bit deeper, because it kept coming up. And this is what I realized:
Loyalty is the act of standing by someone or something’s metaphorical side and facing the same direction. It’s a commitment to stand in solidarity with that person or idea or thing and align yourself with their views, intention and existence. It is in many ways an act of service that you commit to.
At it’s heart it is a “I will stand with you.” I don’t even think it’s about condition, as in…”If you’re all these things, then I’ll stand with you.” It’s just a choice. Ride or die. No matter what. This is where I’m standing.
Imagine yourself right now moving towards the side of someone else or something else and say those words. Or better yet, take someone, anyone near you right now, and go stand next to them. Stand at their side, looking in the same direction. Shoulder to shoulder, saying nothing and just feeling into your body and the orientation this gives you. Be aware of the other person, what they are looking towards and what you’re looking towards and the sensation of them at your shoulder.
Something shifts in your body, however subtle it might be.
It’s a powerful stance to take and it orients you to a place of affiliation, protection and declaration. It lends weight to your identity.
If you stand with something, you will be inclined to defend it if something threatened it or them. If you were loyal to your child and someone said something rude in their direction, what would you do?
Because you are in alignment to your child, standing at their side, you’d say something to make sure the person knew it wasn’t ok, and to not do it again.
You would stand at your child’s side vigilant. As if sentry.
And I don’t want to make it sound as if being loyal and standing sentry for protection is this adversarial position. Your loyalty has you present, tending, vigilant and available for what might be needed.
It’s a more thorough way of saying, “I have your back.” or “I have this person’s back.”
Loyalty And Protection Is Needed To Cultivate Anything
When you are in the state of actively cultivating something you are necessarily loyal to this child, project, career, culture, way of living or belief system.
You stand vigilant over it, at the ready, making sure that it has only the best which will continue to add to it, cultivate it, grow and develop it.
This is about orientation and approach. If you are trying to cultivate a dinner table culture of peace and communion, then it makes sense that you will create a setting by which this could take place. The setting would be such that you would protect it, nurture it, stand vigilant over it so that it has the space and freedom to grow.
The Beauty Of Boundaries
Before I understood loyalty I had an aversion to the word because it felt adversarial and therefore potentially violent. I was wrong of course, but it spoke to my lack of understanding when it came to protection.
I’ve spent a very long time in my life learning about how to set boundaries and even what my boundaries were. When it comes to setting optimal parameters for something to grow and become more freely what it’s suppose to be, boundaries are an effective form of protection.
So in the example above where peace and communion are to be cultivated around the dinner table, a boundary might be ‘All differing opinions are to be respected’ or ‘No talk of news at the dinner table’ or ‘We all check in and share what is going on with us today.’
These might be looked at as rules, but really they are pathfinders towards an end goal. But because they give a clearer picture of what is expected, it nurtures and tends to the cultivation of that end goal. It might not seem like it, but it protects in a million small ways, the aim you are going for.
This week spend time writing about exactly what you are wanting to cultivate with regards to your relationship with food. It could be about you personally, or it could be about the kind of culture you want to create with your loved ones around the dinner table. Make a list of all the things you are trying to cultivate with regards to food in your life.
Then take that list and come up with a few very simple ways you can protect and be loyal to those things you are cultivating with regards to food and your dinner table.
Atourina Charles says
I absolutely love this! This line really speaks to me “You stand vigilant over it, at the ready, making sure that it has only the best which will continue to add to it, cultivate it, grow and develop it.” In regards to so many aspects of life, for me in the instance that I read it, I thought this applies to my ‘Dream’. I need to have this approach to my passions and dream, my goal needs protecting. Thank you mama!
Elena Rego says
Yes… so much! This piece, even though it’s gone through 3 or 4 incarnations, never feels complete to me because it applies to everything. We’ve talked about the whole ‘Ride or die’ theory before, and this has become part of that for me. Standing by that which needs and wants to be cultivated… it’s in all things. The Dream. The Sister. The ritual of nourishing others. Loyalty, protection and ride or die… lol. Maybe the title is all wrong, but it’s very much what I’m meditating on these days.