One of the delights of my week is our customary Saturday morning outing to Goshen's farmer's market. Here's last Saturday morning -- arriving at sunrise, getting our breakfast at Rachel's Bakery (coffee, and a shared Southern French frittata and pumpkin stollen French bread), and then heading out into the market, enjoying the visual delights of the bounty on display. Brussels sprouts, potatoes, broccoli, bok choy, carrots, kale, apples, eggs...we left with overflowing bags, and haven't finished it all yet, despite extra folks around to celebrate the week with us. And a final photo to commemorate the results of trips like this one -- a colorful bowl of duck soup, chockful of market veggies from the week before -- a soup that my tongue and tummy enjoyed as much as my eyes.
This past weekend was one of many details, as we pulled together the contributions of 16 people for worship at Assembly, as I reflected on how best to tell the story I wanted to begin communion with, as I baked bread to take to the Surprise Luncheon. And it was also one of relationships -- our usual Saturday morning breakfast at Rachel's and a table shared with Mary and Glen, a gathering of my Gestalt Pastoral Care peer group, the Sunday meal shared with a table-full of people in the Kurtz's spacious dining room.
Sunday morning, just as I was putting the braided loaf of challah into the oven, John came in from his quiet time, holding Philip Newell's prayer book, Sounds of the Eternal, and said, "I have a prayer for you."
And here it is, perfectly fitting.
In the many details of this day
let me be fully alive.
In the handling of food
and the sharing of drink,
in the preparation of work
and the uttering of words,
in the meeting of friends
and the interminglings of relationship
let me be alive to each instant, O God,
let me be fully alive.
Sounds of the Eternal, p 77
I've been thinking a lot about communion the past month. At Assembly North, the small worship group that began meeting this past September, we spent several Sundays looking at some of the biblical stories of table fellowship, and the way that Jesus repeatedly takes bread, blesses it, breaks it, and gives it to his followers.
Our conversations culminated in sharing communion together on Sunday a week ago -- passing the bread of life around the circle, coming forward for the cup of the new covenant, and then after our worship time, gathering, as we always do, for table fellowship and a simple soup and bread meal.
And afterwards there is the communion of washing and drying, which strikes me s a modern version of washing one another's feet.
Then yesterday I lead communion at Assembly, where it was our small group's turn to lead worship. GC1, our group, has been growing and recently became two groups, but we worked together for this worship time, with sixteen people contributing in various ways -- leading worship, leading singing, reading scripture, leading children's time, serving communion.
It was a very different setting for communion, with nearly 200 people gathered for worship, about ten times the number at Assembly North. Instead of a circle, people came forward in lines to receive their bit of tortilla and to dip it in the cup, or to receive an additional blessing.
In my introductory comments, I reminisced about the days when Assembly felt the only proper way to celebrate communion was by gathering in circles of 12 or so, passing the bread and cup, and ending with hugs or a pat on the back for those beside you. I told how my perspective on that had been transformed by a story shared in the community -- years ago, JR Burkholder returned from a trip to England, where he had participated in worship at one of the great cathedrals. Going forward in a procession of strangers for communion, he felt part of a grand procession of Christians in many different places, in many different centuries, all going forward for communion.
We come forward in lines, but picture a gigantic circle, and our communion lines as only a tiny bit of that great arc -- so tiny that we have the optical illusion that they are lines. Really, we are coming forward as part of that great circle of the communion of saints, across time, around the world, down through the ages.
The communion celebrations at Assembly North and at Assembly a week later were quite different, but both were good, and both celebrated community and discipleship.
I meant to get a photo of the communion table at Assembly, with the bowl of tortillas that Alfonso made by hand, but in the rush of pre-service details, that didn't happen.
I did get a photo of our Surprise Luncheon gathering right afterwards at the Kurtz's, who graciously hosted not only the guests that had been assigned to their home, but the guests of another host who had an unexpected family emergency. And that too was a good time of table fellowship, as we shared soup and bread, laughter and story telling, building relationships.
Sparks of light of a different sort...
After I posted about the Soil and Soul Retreat I attended at Maple Tree Meadows a few weeks ago, several friends expressed interest in learning more about what Karla Kauffman has in mind for the farm.
So yesterday five of us spent the morning visiting with Karla, learning about this wounded farm and the healing place she hopes to create here. The Gleason family were early settlers in the area, and farmed this land for over 150 years. It's been through many configurations, including a state-of-the-art dairy operation decades ago, and years as a horse farm, known as Gleason Meadows.
Eventually it was sold, and over time became more and more wounded. Karla bought 12 and a half acres of it four years ago and has been slowly working on renovating the old farm house and developing plans for the rest of the land.
She dreams of hosting a small community of fellow healers, who would tend to the land, and provide a space where others could come for rest and renewal -- perhaps offering a sanctuary for rescue animals and a place where veterans and others suffering from post traumatic stress disorder could spend time working with soil and soul. But all this is down the road -- for now she would be happy to have a small group of people who could help her consider how to give the dream body and prioritize the tasks.
In the meantime she is hosting once a month retreat days with the Soil and Soul theme from May through October, inviting women who serve in healing roles of many kinds (pastors, teachers, nurses, spiritual directors) to spend four hours in study, soil-work, soul-work, and fellowship.
And we shared many sparks of light -- the laughter and sharing of dreams, the birds singing in the maple trees, and fellowship on a beautiful summer morning.
One more quote from the article "Times of Abundance," and the spark of light and beauty in imperfection (see yesterday's blog for more on this):
If you get just a few items from a local farmer, or even a few herbs from your windowsill, you create a personal connection to food and to the people and place it came from. The bottom line is that good food is food that connects you to the earth and to others -- it is a very real communion.
I experience that communion on my weekly trips to Goshen's Farmers' Market, and at a weekly breakfast date at Rachel's Bread.
Rachel grew up in Belgium and missed the bread and the ambiance of the bakeries there. She has created her own version here, in her bakery attached to the Farmers' Market -- definitely a spark of light in my week, both for the yummy food and for the fellowship as we visit with friends while we eat.
And then there's the Farmers' Market in the same building.
I take delight in buying veggies that have been grown nearby, by farmers I now know by name. At this time of the year, the variety isn't as colorful as in the supermarket, but it feels more connected to the season I'm experiencing. You can't get much more connected to the earth than the rugged root crops that are available these days. There's a subtle light even in dusty potato skins and dried flowers, and more light in the community that gathers to sell and to buy these goods.
My approach to contemplative photography --
Tell about it."
Mary Oliver in "Sometimes"