Tag Archives: food

August 31: L’Arche and Care V – So who is helping whom to achieve what?

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I’ve had a ‘portfolio’ of teaching jobs over the last twenty years, since I became unable to work full-time in classrooms, so it was easy enough to ease into the current L’Arche approach to work and leisure activities where people commit to a weekly portfolio of activities that might include candle-making, gardening, brewing beer, swimming and the weekly grocery shop.

That’s when we meet our friends, often enough. Our local metro supermarket can seem very crowded when three or four people stop to chat in the narrow aisles! We’ve also joined an informal leisure gardening group that includes core members, assistants and their families.

Jobs can take a little longer … for example, setting up a core member to saw wood safely, despite physical challenges. (I’m grateful for the training I received in task analysis as a young man!) but then three eight-year-old girls want to join in, so it’s time to set up the other saw bench and provide them, too, with encouragement rather than hands-on help.

So who is helping whom to achieve what?

Dear reader, I’ll let you puzzle that one out.

But working with core members and children makes me stand and stare and chat. Stand and let others work, stare at the problem of how to let them work safely. Chat while the job is done, encouraging, praising, suggesting, sharing the satisfaction of a job done, a skill acquired.

Let us be ready to receive from others. Didn’t Jesus get the idea of foot washing, that James talked about on Tuesday, from a couple of women?

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28 June: Shared Table X: Food Banks

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More than a million 3 day emergency food parcels were given out by British food banks in 2015-2016. Read more about it here: what food banks do . This does not include parcels given directly by the Saint Vincent de Paul Society and other organisations.

I know people who have greatly benefited from this service. One mother often seems to have more teabags than she needs, but this means that she is able to share her surplus with others. That feels good!

Another interesting story was in The Observer on 4th December last. A Dublin organisation was able to establish deliveries of fresh food that a supermarket would have dumped to a women’s refuge. This abundance brought the women out of themselves and they began to share: to share food, to share a kitchen (I find that a real challenge!), to share recipes, to be good to each other.

Please pop a few cans into the collection baskets at your supermarket or church and help your local food bank keep going. Summertime, and the living will not be so easy when the children do not get their free school meals!

 

WT.

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June 22: Shared Table V, A big Miracle.

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Do I need to add that it was another true story? One of the most spectacular shared meals of all time, that puts into the shade our small miracle recalled in Tuesday’s post – and it happened in the unforgiving Galilean sunshine. 5,000 men, not to mention women and children, all of them fed from  five loaves and two little fish.

John’s account (Chapter 6) tells us that the food was offered by a small boy. So even then, the Lord depended on others to complete his work.

John also tells us that Jesus spoke about himself as real food:

For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, the same also shall live by me.

Well, they did not get it, those who walked no more with him. But do we get it? Remember  Herbert McCabe:

The doctrine of transubstantiation, as I see it, is that the bread and wine become more radically food and drink.

To the naked eye the Eucharist is nothing like as spectacular as the feeding of the five thousand, at which Jesus floated the idea of his body as food to his followers. But consider how we feel more alive in the company of loved ones, as part of a crowd with a purpose such as cheering on a sports team; breathing the same air, hearing and singing the same chants, sharing conversation. We feel energised.

We can be less than 100% attentive to what is being said and done at Mass, receiving the Sacrament in a daze of fatigue or fret. But our presence, our extended hand, are there not just in the moment, but more radically are on the brink of the eternal moment.

(I doubt the loaves and fish were as big as these carved on Strasbourg Cathedral)

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May 28, Inter-Galactic Explorations XXV: At High Tide.

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It was a neap tide, so even at high water T and the Chihuahuas could walk along the beach without getting their feet wet. The high tide line was always fascinating to the diminutive pseudo-dogs just as it was to the Turnstones, but having instinctively snapped up a sandhopper once, Ajax, and for that matter Alfie, was not keen to repeat the experience.

‘All salt and scales,’ Ajax said, ‘I don’t know how those birds eat them.’

There were other treasures. T once found a battered Maria Teresa piece-of-eight, but he was sure it was a nineteenth century minting. Still, keep on mooching, sniffing, looking … until there came an involuntary yelp from Alfie.

‘I’ve hurt my back foot’, he signalled. He had stood on a badly twisted beer can, hidden under seaweed and scraps of nylon netting.

T staunched the blood with clean tissues then picked up what people thought was his pet and made for the vet at the pet shop.

‘I’ll have to stitch his pad,’ said the vet. ‘He’ll need a local anæsthetic.’ She swabbed and sutured and bandaged, T holding Alfie’s paw and sweating beneath the lamp. ‘Keep the foot dry and we’ll have a look at it on the 20th.’

T here they were again on the appointed day. As she cut the dressing away, the vet exclaimed at the state of Alfie’s foot. ‘A remarkable recovery! What have you been eating, Alfie?’

While Alfie understood the question perfectly well, he could not break the Ossyrian discipline of earthly silence to tell her that T had accidentally bought a large sack of the StarStud Breeders’ Mix edition of their usual food. And he did not want to draw T’s attention to the mistake.

T’s reply to the vet reassured Alfie. ‘Just the usual Kanine Krunchies. And the odd whitebait and chips from Peter’s Fish Factory.’

‘Well he looks perfectly healthy to me. Not too much crunchy batter though. We don’t want you like those obese cocker spaniels that die before their time.’

‘No chance of that,’ beamed the 5,027 earth-years old Alfie.

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10 January: Intergalactic Explorations XX: Land of Plenty.

fish-chips-margate1-360x640‘Do you ever’, asked Alfie, gulping another morsel of battered haddock from the fish and chip shop, ‘Do you ever miss the old menu popping through the hatch in the pod? Those six foods and the same old four drinks?’

‘Nothing as tasty as batter, fish and vinegar ever passed my lips in Ossyria’, replied Ajax.

‘Perhaps not’, beamed the Director, known to his human friends as ‘T’, ‘but there is no need to half-choke yourself eating so fast. There’s plenty here for the three of us, and no scientifically controlled portions either.’

‘There was always plenty back home, but scientific protein bangers and extruded bread sticks! If I may say so Boss, everything tasted grey.’

‘Of course it did, but creatures died to feed us here on earth, fish, wheat, potatoes. We cannot escape that, even if we go vegetarian.’

‘Never suggest that again! We have canine appetites along with our canine shapes,’ flashed Ajax.

‘Well I was thinking that come Lent in March next year, I might copy some of these humans and stop eating meat for a few weeks,’ said T, ‘And try to work out why they do it. If you care to join me …’

The chihuahuas made clear that T was on his own for this project. ‘It’s utterly uncanine, it’s unossyrian, it’s unnatural; dogs eat meat,’ asserted Ajax.

‘And sitting in a grey, submarine pod, watching arm-wrestling octopi on the screens, drinking a cocktail of two parts red juice and one of green with warm ice is natural? Come on boys, here in Margate we’re learning that we have appetites and appetites are natural, and all the better for being sharpened.’

‘And some appetites are sharper than others,’ growled Ajax.

Photo by NAIB3

MMB

The appetite for learning is sharpened when the appetite for food is satisfied. You can help Mary’s Meals feed schoolchildren in Africa if you follow this link here.

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30th May: From a Child’s Faith to an Adult’s III

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Altar Cross, St Mary Magdalene, Davington, Kent. MMB

I wrote in the first blog in this series (December 13th, 2015) that we might need a stimulus from outside to grow our childish faith to adulthood as mercylogoour bodies and minds mature. Therese showed us that. (December 30th, 2015) But we have to be open to growth for it to happen properly. Normally teenagers grow physically into adults without having to think about it, though some will diet to control or arrest the process.  Great distress may be caused to themselves and others.

It can be all too easy to feel uncomfortable in one’s own skin if it is spotty or showing ribs or else not showing ribs. Growing in faith can be subject to similar pressures and embarrassments.

But as Pope Francis said on January 8th:

When we have something in our hearts and we want to ask the Lord forgiveness, it is he who awaits us to give forgiveness. This Year of Mercy is also a bit like this: We know that the Lord is waiting for us, each one of us. Why? To embrace us; nothing more. To tell us: ‘Son, daughter, I love you. I let my son be crucified for you; this is the price of my love.’ This is the gift of love.

God will do the same that he did with the prodigal son who spent all his money on vices: He will not let you finish your speech, he will silence you with a hug. The embrace of the love of God.

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May we learn to accept and return that embrace from whomsoever God uses to show us his love. And may we be ready for the next person who needs the embrace of a real hug or else a cup of tea or even a smile.

MMB.

 

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March 8: Called to Imitate the Good Shepherd

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We become what we eat. And we are called to imitate the Good Shepherd. With this in mind, I would like to appeal to you, dear reader, to spare a thought for how your meat, poultry, milk, cheese, butter, eggs, catfood, leather and so forth are produced. Unless you know otherwise, you can be sure they’re intensively farmed, which means produced in an apparatus ordered towards economies of scale and the maximisation of financial profit in which the creatures themselves are regarded as mere numbers. Welfare regulations notwithstanding, cruelty is endemic in such systems from the beginning of life to its end (see, e.g., www.ciwf.org.uk; http://www.animalaid.org.uk/h/n/CAMPAIGNS/slaughter/ALL) . The sentient creatures upon whom we depend so heavily are reduced to mere commodities for our convenience and the gratification of our appetites irrespective of the good. This attitude owes much to the adoption by the early Church of the anthropocentric utilitarianism of the Stoics but sits uneasily with our vocation to stewardship of the Earth and with the unity of all Creation. Life is a seamless garment, the gift of God who is One and whose face is Mercy, yet we presume to divide it and choose which parts we respect. So please, wherever possible, buy organic/free range. Doing so witnesses to our faith in the only terms the market understands. Organic/free range is not perfect, but it’s way better than the other alternatives. Besides, while it might be more expensive financially, since we become what we eat it’s less expensive spiritually.

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A Musical Reality

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Harmony is not always the most reliable goal to have for anyone aiming to help people in distress. A bustle of activity that will ensure survival and healthy well-being might be more reassuring than a neatly-decorated reception table, at which the sufferers can be allocated a number and a place in the queue for food. But even that little detail of being welcomed in a friendly way tells a person that their existence has been taken seriously and their distress properly acknowledged. This is that cup of water offered to the thirsty which Jesus treated as a good first step of solidarity. Further steps will include added experiences of care, listening and celebration. Achieving inner harmony will, in fact, be a valid goal on a path of recovery.

Musical performers can tackle the issue of self-deception and helplessness on a journey that might fail to bring a full recovery. This promotes realistic courage. Watching the story of Orpheus and Eurydice, about love which wishes it was stronger than death, but feels unsure of its resources, a lesson of honesty, patience and poignant empathy can be learned. In a production of this opera by Gluck, at the Edinburgh Festival last summer, the story was set in an intensive care unit.

Family and friends of Eurydice began by wanting cake and balloons to reassure the woman in the bed, but were dismissed as foolish and superficial in their treatment of this most profound human predicament. She does die, but a hint of eventual resurrection ran through the music.

 

CD.

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