The Value of Mealtimes

By Jimmy Varblow (Michigan) 

In the modern world, communal mealtimes are becoming less valued and less common. The number of meals shared as a family has dropped significantly over recent years, and the average mealtime length has also decreased. Eating together is an important part of human socialization, and this devaluation of shared mealtimes can hurt families and communities. That’s why I appreciate the mealtime schedule structured in at Semester.

At Semester, we eat nearly every meal together in the dining room.

We divide among the tables, and for thirty minutes we eat, talk, and generally just spend time in the community. Meals are a great time to laugh together and take a break from the somewhat hectic schedule. They’re also a great opportunity to get to know some of your fellow students you’ve spent less time with.

The meals are prepared by our amazing cooks Hannah and Liz. The diversity of meals prepared is quite surprising. We’ve had meals ranging from curry to ratatouille, to BBQ pulled pork. I’ve eaten meals I didn’t know existed before coming here. I’m usually a somewhat picky eater, but somehow it’s all been good. I’ve enjoyed every meal we’ve been served. I don’t know how our cooks pull this off, but they’ve managed to do it every meal.

Every meal begins and ends with a short routine.

Breakfast begins with a liturgical reading and a ten-minute “thought of the day” from a staffer. Dinner is concluded with a time of confession and singing Amazing Grace. We sing the Doxology before every meal, and each meal is concluded with a prayer or devotion from a staffer. Together, these daily routines help us keep the big picture in mind. At times, it can be easy to get distracted by the classes, schedules, and deadlines. These mealtime prayers point us up toward Jesus, reminding us not to lose the forest for the trees.

This Christ-centered focus is the most important part of our mealtime routines.

I love the food, the cooks, the friends, the laughs, and the respite from a tough schedule. But the most important thing about these meals is the way they point us up. The way they are structured, each meal is a reminder of the Grace offered to us by King Jesus our Lord.