I had occasion this week to partake of a wonderful meal.
I was visiting a friend and he invited me along with several other friends to dinner. Now, it just so happens that these friends lived all over the state and country and just happened to be in town on the same night. What was interesting is that the only connection between us was our common friend. That is, none of us knew each other other than that we each independently knew our host.
Well the meal was delicious and the conversation flowed and was full of pronouncements, and laughter, and stories, and confession and wisdom and foolishness and fun and…wine was poured and bread broken and…new friendships were born and the world was richer for it.
As I considered the fun I had at that gathering I was reminded of the fundamental importance of sitting with people and sharing a meal.
Now, I know that friendships and relationships can be founded in any number of circumstances. However, there seems to be no more important a venue for building relationships than by having a common meal with others.
I suppose at some level it is because food is so elemental to existence. Simply stated, if one doesn’t eat then one doesn’t live. Perhaps in siting at table with others and eating we are reminded that we are all fundamentally beings that are the same; we need to eat to survive.
And yet, every religion that I am familiar with says there is something spiritual or divine about eating a common meal. Sometimes these meals are eaten surrounded by a formal practice that includes words, and incense and bells; sometimes these meals are shared with family in the home around a remembrance; sometimes they mark an important date, or an important end, or an important beginning; sometimes they are noisy and sometimes they are eaten in silence.
But, what is common to all is that they are eaten in community, where there is a common understanding of the purpose of the meal, a meal where food is offered and taken and becomes blessed and a blessing to those who partake.
Sometimes I feel as though there is a very fine line between those meals that mark spiritual endeavors and those that seem more mundane.
Indeed, perhaps there is a very thin veil between the two so that what can seem like a mundane gathering of friends or family around a meal can become something divine and spiritual without anyone being aware that it is happening or intentional in making it happen.
In some ways, I feel this is what happened this week with this dinner with my friend and his friends. Certainly, it began as a somewhat routine gathering of disparate people who came together to eat food to be sustained for life.
But, by the end something sacred had occurred with none of us being aware that something spiritual was happening.
We had slipped through the veil into a world where relationships are formed and deepened. And for all of us the world just became a larger and richer place in those new relationships. In a way a world became new again.
I wonder if when we gather as mentor and youth, as a team, as Braid if we sometimes begin with the most simple and human of actions, having a snack or a piece of pizza or a meal and find that in some unexpected way our relationship with our youth just deepened. And with our team just deepened. And with our Braid community just deepened. Perhaps not earth shatteringly so, but feeling more connected. Richer. Larger. And all a little unexpected.