Dinner and spirits: Those who have passed can still receive meal invite – Sentinel & Enterprise

Posted: September 5, 2017 at 10:42 am

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DEAR BONNIE: My father's birthday is coming up -- the first since he passed away last year. My father's birthday parties would always be huge family gatherings, with a big dinner and a birthday cake. It became an annual tradition to which we all looked forward. The family and I are thinking of throwing him his typical birthday party, but just wishing him happy birthday in heaven this year. What do you think? -- GRETCHEN IN LITTLETON

DEAR GRETCHEN: I think that's a great idea --and your father will love it! Honoring those who have passed on by holding a meal in their honor is a practice as old as time itself.

Almost every religious tradition holds a ritual offering of food to its departed loved ones and sacred spirits.

At Passover, Jewish families leave a seat for the prophet Elijah at their Seder table, pour a cup of wine (the "Cup of Elijah"), open the front door of the home, and recite several verses (mostly from Psalms) to invite Elijah inside.

It is a common practice in Zen Buddhism to make food offerings to hungry spirits. At formal meals during sesshin, an offering bowl will be passed or brought to each person about to partake of the meal. Everyone takes a small piece of food from his or her bowl, touches it to the forehead, and places it in the offering bowl. The bowl is then ceremonially placed on the altar.

But what I am most familiar with, and what your father's birthday party reminds me of, is the ancient tradition of "dumb suppers" -- these were meals held in honor of a deceased loved one.

While it is nice to keep chatter to a minimum at a meal in honor of a loved one, dumb suppers today no longer need to be silent. You may want to jot down your favorite memories of your loved one and read them aloud at the table, taking turns with your other guests. You may want to play his favorite music, lightly, as a dinner accompaniment. This is a special celebration in honor of your father. If you send out paper invitations to your guests, write out an invitation for your father as well.

Definitely consider serving your father's favorite meal. Make sure to put a place setting and a chair at the head of the table for him! By the place setting, you can put things that remind you of him, such as a necklace or photograph. For my purposes, I place the guest of honor's chair across from mine, so that I may gaze into the space there, like divination, during the meal. Ultimately, where you place them is not important. What is important is that you serve the guest of honor's chair first, your invited guests next, and then yourself. It's the intention of hospitality that matters most.

And when it comes time to blow out the candles and cut the cake, allow him to have the first slice of cake. Leave it untouched at his place setting until cleanup time. There is a similarity to the Buddhist tradition here: The guest of honor's meal is taken outside and left as an offering to them.

When I do a dumb supper, I like to keep the environment light, life-affirming and full of happy memories.

Gretchen, your father would be honored to have another birthday party. He will be thrilled to see the whole family around the dinner table again. Cheers!

Psychic medium Bonnie Page is available for private readings by appointment at Messages from Heaven Healing and Learning Center, 272 Central Street, Leominster, or by calling 978-297-9790. Email questions for her column to bonniepage@verizon.net and include a phone number (not for publication).

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Dinner and spirits: Those who have passed can still receive meal invite - Sentinel & Enterprise

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Written by grays |

September 5th, 2017 at 10:42 am

Posted in Zen Buddhism