On Mondays in Bingen House, where I live with Rosy and the sojourners, Denise and Paz, we have developed something of a tradition we call “Monday Breakfasts.” Monday is our day of renewal for activities that refresh us body, soul and spirit. We have leisure time in the morning to make a big breakfast which usually turns into brunch. You might recognize this tradition in your house on a Saturday or Sunday.
This past Monday we stood around the kitchen table chatting as Rosy mixed up blueberry pancakes. We talked about pancake toppings and interesting candy we had as children. Have you ever had a sucker dipped in hot pepper? The conversation wasn’t especially weighty, but something important was happening around the breakfast table. As we spent some fun and creative time together over a meal we were strengthening our community relationships.
Our Sunday community meals are also times for good food and storytelling. We discuss the news or ask about each other’s families. Mary David and Joanne share stories from their life in community which provide a rich context for understanding who the sisters of Holy Wisdom Monastery are today. One of the ways we live the ecumenical nature of our community is by sharing from our various faith traditions. “How did you pray together as a family?” “Do you see the same dynamics among young people in Protestant churches as among young Catholics?” Often politics creeps into the conversation.
At a recent Sunday dinner we celebrated Denise’s birthday. It is our custom that each person provides some part of the meal on Sunday evening. Often Mary David and Joanne provide the meat and salad and the sojourners and I prepare the vegetables and hors d’oeuvres. For this Sunday’s meal Mary David baked and decorated the cake that has become our traditional birthday cake. We surprised Denise with a chocolate cake with cherries between the layers and a whipped cream frosting topped off with chocolate shavings. It was a delicious ending to a lovely meal and community time together! Sunday dinners are often one of the Sojourners’ favorite times during the week.
I suspect that people who are interested in community often have occasions such as these in mind when they think about community living – companionship, fun, good food. These are important for building community, but so are working together, negotiating differences and working through conflict. Loghlan Sofield, ST said in a class on community I took last year, “We are healed and saved in community.” Perhaps this is something that intuitively draws us to community life. Whether in marriage, a worshiping community, religious community or as a single with a community of friends, we need each other to know ourselves and God. Through each other we experience both our brokenness and the forgiveness we need.
Benedict understood that we are healed and saved in community. He wrote toward the end of the Rule “May Christ bring us all together to everlasting life.”
Follow this link to read additional blog posts from Lynne in the series titled Building Community.