Barb Spies, OFS, Director of Mission Services and Pastoral Care

July 4th is one of those glorious days to gather and celebrate during the summer. I was listening to a podcast hosted by Kate Bowler, a professor at Duke Divinity School, that talked about the importance of our gathering rituals. Priya Parker, author of The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters examined the joys of getting together for any number of reasons. Of course, we come together for the holidays, and July 4th is an excellent reason to meet and celebrate. She also speaks of having a meal together for no particular reason at all. She gave the example of one group that had regular meals together, but then started fading, not attending as often. Various excuses were given. It turned out that the members of the group felt too much pressure to cook the perfect dish for the dinner. When they all decided that it was OK to bring something they purchased instead of fixing it from scratch, the group revived and continued their regular meetings.  

Sometimes we just need a pot luck just because we want to spend time with others. We have a regular game night with friends of ours. We never stress about having a fancy meal. Sometimes we grill, sometimes we have burritos, sometimes we just set out the fixings for sandwiches, and sometimes we order pizza. The important part is the gathering, the conversation, the joy of being with each other, especially when the pandemic had kept us apart for so long.

As you get together for your July 4th celebrations, remembering the gift of our country’s freedoms, waving sparklers, eating hot dogs, wearing patriotic clothing, and watching fireworks, also consider making that habit of joining for a simple meal a more regular feature.  

I’ll end with the blessing that Kate Bowler offered in her podcast: “God, awaken us to the everyday miracle of a simple meal, whether it is takeout that took a phone call, a recipe that took an entire afternoon, or the cereal-for-dinner-again feeling that this meal creates. May our time around the table be a gift. May we be present to one another, engaging all our senses as an act of thankful worship to the nourishment that’s before us and the people that we love. Bless us O God in all of our eating and cooking and gathering and sharing, our jokes, talking with our mouths full, and elbows on the table. May we taste and see the love that multiplies. Amen.”

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