While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat, this is my body.” Matthew 26:26
“What was your ‘high point’ of The Journey?” This was the question on Sunday afternoon at the end of a weekend spent with about a dozen other women. Women who are fascinating in so many ways.
Every two or three months, the home on an acreage in Ft. Saskatchewan in which I was asked this question, is opened up for a retreat weekend to women who either have spent or are currently spending time on the streets of Edmonton. Several volunteers also attend to serve these women in the form of manicures, pedicures, hair treatments, massage, and more generally, in the form of fellowship and fun. Movies are watched, the in-house pool and hot-tub are used, jewelry is made, scrapbooks are created, and meals are shared in this weekend community. For this Journey weekend experience, Danielle Strickland – Salvation Army Officer – led the women in attendance in listening prayer, the sharing of stories, theological discussion, and the discussion of everyday challenges, as we got to know one another.
I had the privilege of cooking for the weekend. And it truly was a privilege. There were four meals I prepared with the extraordinary help of my friends Tammy, Genelle and Carla. Also of immense help were Louise and Taanis at the house. Even with all the help, it was still exhausting yet rewarding work. And it was so satisfying that when I was asked about my ‘high point’ of the weekend, I had to say that it was preparing the meals and seeing people enjoy them. There is something special that occurs when meals are shared. We are more intimate with one another and allow ourselves to be a little bit more vulnerable as we break bread together. We accept one another just as we are when we dine together. It is the giving and receiving of hospitality, making room for one another in our busy lives.
A number of years ago, I participated in a Bible study about covenant, and I recall that shared meals play a part in God’s covenant with us as well as our covenant with those with whom we dine. In Old Testament days, sacrifices were shared; in New Testament times, the Lord’s Supper, shared meals for all believers in Acts, and the feeding of the five thousand all present images of what God would have us experience as his disciples.
The meals we shared together at The Journey were sacred. We ate, we talked, we listened, we commiserated, we shared, we laughed, we encouraged, we loved, we blessed – we were authentic with one another. I pray that as each of us who were there needs a boost in whatever circumstance we are in, that God blesses us with the beautiful memories of our times together and encourages us to seek each other out.