In this time of seasonal feasting, it is inevitable that we remember fondly those stories, many made into films, that take us to a place of reverent nostalgia regarding our own past ritual feasts. The Christmas Dinner in Little Women is always one of my favourites, along with a modern version of the crazy Christmas togetherness in The Family Stone. Every time I see Elf I laugh and cry because the naive, child-like part of me wishes every orphan could end up a loved and valued Elf in Santa’s workshop. Generosity, forgiveness, and love are always on the menu in our favourite stories, as well as a balancing portion of the kind of satire we find in Eating Raoul, Tampopo, and The Hunger Games. Recent food documentaries A Place at the Table, The Power of Community, and Food, Inc. help us to understand why we are so preoccupied with food in our culture, and the First Nations peoples’ experiences recorded in Standing Silent Nation let us know why we need satirists like Jon Stewart to rival Jonathan Swift and his “A Modest Proposal”. These films and many others illustrate how food brings us together and separates us but one stands above the rest because, while it is about food, it is also about the spiritual nature of life, even in the midst of great feasting.
Babette’s Feast is often called the food film of food films. Adapted from a short story by Karen Blixen (who wrote under the name Isak Dinesen), the film tells the story of love, sacrifice, redemption, and, above all, art in the form of exquisite food preparation. Cultural differences, so evident in the characters’ food choices and practices, dominate the story, and yet the manner of Babette’s food preparation and serving bridges all divides. From Dinesen’s tale of heartbreak, duty, service, and food, we learn how one woman expresses her love – for the artist who expresses her essence, for those she serves with gratitude and love, and for the beings she transforms from living treasures into food. Most remarkable to me is how the power of Babette’s love as she expresses it through her food returns everyone to a state of innocence and bliss.
As the American Thanksgiving approaches and I reflect on Babette’s Feast , I cannot help but feel that this return to innocence is what we all desire when we begin our celebratory preparations. How crushing then, when a sense of unworthiness prevents us from taking our place at the banquet table of life. Feeling a lack of worthiness can manifest in many ways: we do not feel the right to be here; we do not feel the right to live the lives we desire; we do not feel the right to happy relationships; or, we do not feel a sense of home within ourselves and with others. EFT helps to neutralize this sense of unworthiness in the present by helping us to uncover past situations when the seeds of our feelings of unworthiness were sown.
For example, if we lived childhoods of neglect and poverty, we may have grown up believing we were a burden to our parents, even if they assured us they loved and wanted us. Tapping on a sense of being in the way, of being a bother, of being a burden, and even of being the cause of our family’s problems is a good place to begin. Recalling specific incidents helps in this neutralization process. Reminder statements that include reference to “a family dinner when my mother told me I couldn’t have seconds because there wasn’t enough,” or “that time my mother sighed when I asked what we were going to have for supper,” or “that night I went to bed hungry and was sure it was all my fault that we didn’t have enough to eat,” can set in motion a series of memories on which to tap on a sense of outsized responsibility for everything that goes wrong along with its attendant sense of unworthiness. Tapping on our sadness regarding not having enough food, or our shame about what we ate (or didn’t eat), or our conviction that some personal flaw prevents us from being welcomed at the table of life can be a soothing practice when we are feeling literally and metaphorically excluded from life’s feasts as the Thanksgiving preparations reach fever pitch.
Concluding a tapping session with several rounds of “we are all invited to life’s banquets,” and “we all deserve a place at the table,” can lift decades of hidden sorrow and initiate the resolution of longstanding unworthiness and food issues. And . . . should our current situation prevent us from taking our place at our blood family’s table, it is very comforting to know that soup kitchens, inner-city missions, church outreach programs, and community center programs have open-door policies to assure us we are members of the human family, and, through that membership, a permanent place at the feast of life.
To be sure, tapping on our sense of isolation often opens us to specific isolating incidents, and these incidents can be very painful. However, such incidents respond almost immediately to the loving attention we bring to our experiences when we tap as we tell the stories of our emotional food and worthiness traumas. With persistence our pain diminishes and we understand at the deepest visceral levels that our sense of unworthiness is rooted in past experiences; in the present, we are truly welcomed here. How can we know this with absolutely certainty? We know this because we are welcoming ourselves.
Concluding our tapping round with “I am so glad to have a place at life’s table,” and “I feel so welcomed by life to enjoy its bounty,” and “I am so glad to meet new friends and share the joy of this season of deep gratitude,” will help us to release a sense of unworthiness that may have prevented us from experiencing the overwhelmingly beautiful richness of our lives. What a wonderful outcome! May you find your place at the table of life and help others do the same.
Until next week . . . Happy Thanksgiving