7 March: Together at table.

Mealtime in Community by Henri Nouwen

The point is that you say these are moments where we live community with one another around the table. Everybody’s there. Perhaps we have a candle or flowers, or a song and a prayer, and we take our time. Whatever you do, we are not eating in order to just fill our bellies and go back to work. We are eating together in community, to be together around the same food and to nurture ourselves. Not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually. So if you don’t have these things, I think a good thing for a community to do is to constantly revisit the question: Are we still eating well together? Or have our meals become something similar to fast-food places?

I know a family or a community from the way they behave at the table. It can be: This is peaceful. This is wonderful. I’m welcome here. But if everybody is watching television, others are running off for phone calls, then nobody’s really ever there. So to say, we will do everything possible to make sure that everyone is there, that we are not doing other things like telephoning, listening to the radio, or watching television on the side. This is a sacred hour. And in our culture there are very few families who can do that. So it’s not obvious in our culture. And I just picked up a McDonald’s hamburger yesterday on the way here.

Another aspect of being conscious, as we are trying to be this Lent, is being conscious of being together, conscious of each others gifts and needs. One of the best places for this to occur is the meal table, where the family or other community is gathered. Henri Nouwen lived in the Daybreak L’Arche Community in Ontario, but these thoughts are worth pondering for any community, gathered round a table or bar or on a seaside bench. This extract from his book ‘Community’ is part of a longer extract published by Plough magazine.

Read it here.

The book ‘Community’ by Henri Nouwen can be bought on line or from bookshops.


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Filed under Christian Unity, Daily Reflections, Justice and Peace, L'Arche, Lent, Mission

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