True sharing involves selfless giving of something of value. When a gift is shared the giver relinquishes all ties to the gift. It is then up to the receiver of that gift to use or dispose of the gift shared. There are many ways to share. One may chose to share one's possessions or even their time, but in sharing oneself there is greater potential for growth of all parties involved. Only when the gift is a physical object does it lessen the stores of the giver, and often then not by any significant margin.
I have often shared my possessions with others. I find that in keeping something to myself there is little joy in the object of my affection. When I bring that joy to others I want them to share in my own joy. This tends to happen particularly with meals. Since meals are taken several times a day, it gives me an opportunity both to share something of significance with others as well as widen their horizons with respect to the possibilities of food.
Having differing views on food and its sources affords me some unique opportunities to expound on my ethics while I share my foods. As a high school biology teacher, I am able to discuss the advantages of eating lower on the food chain and the environmental impacts of food production. I can slip in some conversation about health benefits while I share my organic vegan meals with my students. These discussions are generally accepted and enjoyable even if they don't bring about any lasting changes in the listener. It is, after all, the giving of the message that is important. It is a gift of time and attention while sharing the meal that is best received.
Time and attention are but one form of sharing oneself. By taking time to discuss our own views and preferences, our own philosophies and reasoning, we take the risk and share ourselves. Sharing ourselves is indeed a great risk. By allowing others to know what is inside we run the risk of rejection. We may be angered that another will not accept our gift or will be offended by it. We also run the risk of embarrassment if others ridicule what we most value. It is, however, the gift most precious because of this risk. Only those things that require great risk bring great rewards.
The simple act of sharing a meal brings with it a multitude of opportunities to give. A well-prepared meal satisfies the stomach as well as the soul. It binds together not only ingredients but people. This must have been the true meaning of soul food, that which is shared in kindness and love. Take a risk and offer the gift, but leave it for the giver to use.
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