A few months back, I wrote that something new was emerging in Lake City, Seattle's most northeastern neighborhood. That something new has continued to take shape and is now known as Common Table. We gather on the evenings of the first and third Sundays of each month and bring food to share in a meal and conversation. This is a very common and ordinary thing to do. People all over the world do this very act of coming together for dinner. In fact, the cool and edgy practice in pubs and restaraunts around Seattle is to have a community table. So if you come in without a reservation, you can sit at a large table with strangers and eat amazing food with a ridiculously overpriced bill to pay at the end.
And yet, as one of our community members pointed out a few weeks ago, what we do on Sunday nights is anything but common. I guess, in our society, the more common practice is to eat in front of a tv, or drive through a fast food chain, or just eat dinner as a family unit. But intententionally bringing kindred spirits around a table for the explicit purpose of building or creating community is not a common practice. It is actually a radical departure from our society's norms.
What further serves to make this ordinary practice of eating food around a table with friends extraordinary, is that we integrate it into sacred space. We are in our own way enacting the last meal Jesus shared with his disciples when he broke ordinary bread and passed an ordinary cup of wine around saying that those elements would take on a new, symbolic meaning. At Common Table, we too bless bread and wine and share it around the table. We meditate. We pray. We read sacred story. We share our opinions, our worries, our hurts, our joys, and our hopes with each other. Then we clean up together and go home to get ready for our respective weeks.
The past couple of weeks this conversation, which is always ongoing, has been enriched by the voices of Walter Brueggemann and Peter Block. As these two elders sit on a porch and have a conversation, we get to sit in on it because of the recording of Travis Reed and the Work of the People. We heard last night of uncredentialed people creating lasting transformation, about how to sit with a thought for several weeks, and about how friendship is the most radical practice a person could engage in that would actually make a significant impact on her/him and maybe others. This is what we want at Common Table and what I long for in my own life. We don't need a savior that exists outside of time and space. We need each other and the Holy One is present in the midst of our table gatherings and in our neighborhoods. There was much to sit with and marinate from last night's conversation and I hope to try and work out some of those thoughts in another post later this week.