There is a time for teaching, and time for debating, even the kind that can get quite heated, but not bad tempered. That happened two evenings ago when some friends came over and indulged in ‘porch talk’ – you know the rambling, sometimes loud, and usually not that edifying kind of talk. But, fun. I should add they left as friends, so that was okay. I did wonder if there was any positive movement in anyones spiritual understanding, though. I’m afraid FaceBook can be a bit like that, too, when it come to spirituality/religion or politics. Lots of heat, little light.
However, the same friends came over last evening. Same friends, same theological persuations, same ‘baggage’, but it was different. This get-together was a ‘Com-Panis’ event. ‘Com-panis’ is our way of eating together.
‘Company’ is comes from the Latin word ‘com’, meaning ‘together’; and ‘panis’, meaning ‘bread’.
We came together, not just socialising, not just tolerating each other, not making ourselves heard, but making sure we cared for each other, come what may, as equals, as fellow so jointers. At this event, this shared meal, a hush descended regarding controvesry and differing opinions, as we moved unrehearsed into sacred time/sacred space even as we ate. It is alotgether different.
‘Strange to see how a good dinner and feasting reconciles everybody. (Samuel Pepys)
The debate, and the trying to win over others to ones opinion was gone. Why should we replicate it here? Tonight was, is different. And, so, five Christians, a Hindu, a Muslim, and two Druids sat side by side, and celebrated life in each other’s company – and gave thanks to the Source of All. And it was wonderful.
‘There are times when wisdom cannot be found in the chambers of parliament or the halls of academia but at the unpretentious setting of the kitchen table.’ (E A Bucchianeri)
Although it was unspoken, we all knew that whatever our particular dogma stated, that to declare it here would divide us. We all believed that the Source wanted the opposite to division, and we also knew that none of us had got it all right. In eating together, we acknowledged our need of each other, to learn from each other, and to acknoweldge that we were in the presence of That Which Is Greater Than Ourselves.
And, so we ate.
‘God is the head of this event, the unseen guest at this meal, and the silent listener at every conversation. (Adapted)
And, something ‘magical’ happened. In a movie, it would be the cue for ‘silver dust’ to fall from the ceiling upon guests, for an angelic bell on the Christmas tree (if it were Christmas, and to refer to an old movie) to ring, or for the ground to tremble. Nothing like that happened. But, in sharing this meal, and at one noticeable point, we all knew that our differences were minimised in the presence of the Great Invisible Benevolent Power, and you could feel, palpably, the Presence of Love, and that was all. That was enough.
‘Walk together. Feel the heart beats. Experience the Presence. This is how to be thankful.’ (Amit Ray)
For ten whole minutes no one spoke, no one could speak, and then slowly each related the account mentioned above. We left, later that evening, knowing that we do have differences, but they are to be celebrated, and do ‘dissipate’ when Love draws near.
‘When He had reclined at the table with them, He took the bread and blessed it, and breaking it, He began giving it to them.’ (Luke 24:30, The Book)
In all that we say and do, and I’m speaking to myself, too, may we share bread with each other with Love present. Bread or dogma? Choose bread…for that’s the time where the Presence abounds.
[Note: Bearing this in mind, and as I’ve had 3-4 responses so far, I thought the Winter Solstice celebration, might take the form of a three course meal at a local restaurant (in Fulham, London), which has a lower/exclusive large room), and we could incorporate liturgy and poetry between each course, and perhaps 10 minutes of a ‘themed’ teaching-address to make it a truly sharing-celebratory event, open to all. More details will follow.]