For those who are healthy, dining out can be pure pleasure. You get to select from a wide array of foods, you don’t have to labor in the kitchen to prepare your meal, and you don’t have to clean up afterwards! Yes, you do have to pay for the privilege of eating in a restaurant, but that really is a “small price” to pay for what is usually a positive experience.
For those of us with chronic illness, especially if we are immune-compromised due to our disease or the medications we take, eating out poses sometimes steep challenges. Often, we have to ask specifically about ingredients and method of preparation before ordering our meal, and even then, we might have to limit ourselves significantly. We look upon silverware, glasses, and other serving utensils and vessels with a critical eye so that we don’t accidentally get something that isn’t clean (and even then, we probably make liberal use of our supply of handwipes!). We might even have to ask for a change of table or server, if we detect that someone nearby (or the person who is supposed to serve us) is ill.
Yes, we do have challenges!
But, still, eating out, even for the chronically ill, can be a wonderful experience, if we focus on the real reason we do it – sharing a meal with friends.
I am reminded of this on Holy Thursday, especially, and the intimate meal in an upstairs room where Jesus broke bread, shared wine, and gave us Eucharist. For all of the trauma to come, and for all of the undercurrent of betrayal that was in the room, the presence of love, communion, and grace was and still is nourishment for more than just earthly bodies!
As we share meals this week and in the days and years to come, let’s remember that there is food other than what is on our plate. Food for the soul, in a meal shared, despite our physical restrictions, is a blessing well worth our love!