It was a late saturday evening. I was in hospital, seriously ill, and not able to eat at all. The nurses went in and out while I was more or less asleep. Hospital doors shut in their own way, they just glide silently at slow speed until they are almost closed. Then they stop, and shut in a final quick swish. Just as the door closed, this last swish brought with it a vanilla waft and a peal of laughter. Someone was baking waffles in the nurse’s kitchen, hoping for an easy shift with time for socializing and friendship.
That smell brought so many memories of my grandmother’s tradition of serving waffles to everybody on saturday afternoon, of happy meals in the garden and by the fireplace. It brought longings for companionship and joy. It brought regrets for the times I had not appreciated being with my family or taking time to share a meal with a friend. The smell of that simple and unpretentious food brought resolve to never take fellowship or sustenance as a given. To me it is not about what we eat, but eating together, sharing meals that take so long that thoughts, questions and reflections have time to arise and be dwelt upon.
I have been told that the chinese used to greet each other with ” have you eaten?”. The most important thing to know, implicating that if you had food, your day must be good. We know that many could not answer positively to that. Even today, we will find hunger, malnutrition and need very close to us. So, on the other hand, if developing pills that would take care of everybody’s need was possible, if I could eat pills so that all of us were given the chance to live, then I would do it. Until then I am happy to being able to eat. Until then, you’re welcome to sit down at my table sharing a meal.