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shared meals – interlude

November 5, 2009

Before moving onto the all important topic of the Last Supper/Lord’s supper I wanted to take a brief detour and get some extra thoughts out about shared meals in general. i was re-reading this morning some thoughts by Jean Vanier in Community and Growth and I was reminded again of this down to earth genius and the depth of experience he brings to all things community. He has a section on meals right at the end of Community and Growth that is worth a long, hard look. So this, in the spirit of a discussion on food, is simply and appetizer summary of his thoughts.

– Meals are for joy and recreation not work and strained conversation

– Meals and love have linked for us since infancy since we were dependent on someone caring for us enough to feed us.

– Laughter helps digestion.

– Self service meals (buffets) are a horrible idea. Sometimes just passing the potatoes brings someone out of isolation and allows them a very practical way to express love for another. (keep in mind he is dealing with very wounded, broken people in his communities who suffer from MRDD issues. Also keep in mind we are all wounded and broken and probably don’t even realize the depth of it and need this simple advice as much as anyone. Myself majorly included.)

–   Meals are about more than food… they are about conversation, connection, laughter,  sharing, beauty etc.

– Eating well does not mean eating expensively. Simplicity is good and can be beautiful.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 5, 2009 9:26 pm

    These are the very heart of my family’s meals whenever a new person happens along at meal times. Even a curious query ( while poking at some stuff on a plate) such as “what is this, what makes it so?” becomes a focus for exchanging experiences, personal history, and generates a communal interest of the differences that make us all tick. Mealtimes can be a time of joy, sharing and discovery. G

  2. elainesh66 permalink
    November 7, 2009 1:40 pm

    What Jean Vanier has to say about communal eating resonates with my own experience. And I, too, do not like buffets but for different and yet similar reasons.

    As I have not read this book, I was confused by your comment

    (keep in mind he is dealing with very wounded, broken people in his communities who suffer from MRDD issues. Also keep in mind we are all wounded and broken and probably don’t even realize the depth of it and need this simple advice as much as anyone. Myself majorly included.)

    Does Vanier really refer to his community as “wounded and broken because they “suffer” from MRDD issues” and imply that is why these ways of gathering as beneficial to them vs. “normals”?

    Our bodies are only vessels to carry our spirits. Meeting and working with families who have children with Down Syndrome, Autism, Aspergers, etc. – I would never think of them as wounded and broken. Like all of us, the “dis-ability” does not preclude them from being a gift to the family and community and having great spiritual depth. If our society was structured to embrace differences, it would be beneficial to us all.

    And isn’t our spirit/soul all that really matters?

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