On the fourth Tuesday of the month this year, our community group is going to have a week of benediction. Or, as it has now been dubbed, #AwkwardTuesday.
In years past we have started the Cgroup year by washing one another’s feet, which is, to be honest, totally awkward. But also totally cool. It’s vulnerable and weird and personal and pushes us past our usual confines into a space where we are actually touching one another in a way that few of us are ever actually touched. Some folks loved it, some dreaded it. Some wouldn’t even show up if they knew we would be doing it.
This year Jason and I wanted to find a way to incorporate the connectedness and accessibility that comes with foot washing on a regular basis throughout the year. We also tend to be a rather head-y group and we want be intentional about bringing the group into our bodies as well. Enter #AwkwardTuesdays.
Every fourth Tuesday, we will take a break from our regular discussions & meditations to eat a meal together and bless one another in creative ways. Each month we will divide the larger group into three smaller groups — food, prayer & poetry, worship/meditation/reflection. We are giving the groups free reign to determine what this will look like and we’re hoping that everyone will actively participate in some way.
In addition to blessing one another, we hope to use #AwkwardTuesday to bless someone outside the group each month as well. This month we are focusing on two groups — collecting items and candy for the Fall Festival @ our church this weekend & stuffing envelopes/prep for the upcoming Chamwino Connect fundraiser.
I’m in the food group this month and we are bringing “harvest” foods to share with the group. Soups and salads and breads. Plus dessert, of course. And wine. I found this Sabbath poem by Wendell Berry, which ties in the concept of “harvest” and thought I would share it with the group before we eat.
Not that any of us are farmers or actually “harvest” a whole lot of anything! But I still like the poem and I think it can be meaningful for us, even in technology-driven Seattle. As a writer, I’m learning about the value of ten thousand days of work that is then left to grace. I typically think I would prefer, maybe, 10 days of work with a guarantee of success at the end! Wouldn’t that be nice? But that’s not the way it goes, in writing or in life, and I’m trying to laid hold of the wisdom of an aching hand and sweating face.
Whatever is foreseen in joy
Must be lived out from day to day.
Vision held open in the dark
By our ten thousand days of work.
Harvest will fill the barn; for that
The hand must ache, the face must sweat.
And yet no leaf or grain is filled
By work of ours; the field is tilled
And left to grace. That we may reap,
Great work is done while we’re asleep.
When we work well, a Sabbath mood
Rests on our day, and finds it good.
Other things shared during the evening…
A prayer for our meal, written by my awesome husband:
LORD, our provider, you have already given us breath and the photons sent to plants to give us that breath. Like a thoughtful chef you have provided the flavors and nourishment of this meal and of the conversation around it. We are thankful.
As our source, as our ground, we ask to see you tonight, in the faces of each other, in the service to another, and in thinking, thanking, and talking of you. Give us hearts that can say with the psalmist “Your face, YHWH, do I seek.” Not just an idea of you, or a doctrine about you, or an experience of you, but a risky and crazy thing: your face, Lord, do we seek.
Morning Poem by Mary Oliver, shared by La Verne:
Under the orange
sticks of the sun
ashes of the night
turn into leaves again
and fasten themselves to the high branches —
and the ponds appear
like black cloth
on which are painted islands
of summer lilies.
If it is your nature
to be happy
you will swim away along the soft trails
for hours, your imagination
And if your spirit
carries within it
that is heavier than lead —
if it’s all you can do
to keep on trudging —
there is still
somewhere deep within you
a beast shouting that the earth
is exactly what it wanted —
each pond with its blazing lilies
is a prayer heard and answered
whether or not
you have ever dared to be happy,
whether or not
you have ever dared to pray.
A prayer for peace and reconciliation penned by Michelle:
God, we are thankful for the abundance of your abundance and provision in our lives. Even when we experience hard times, you are there. You are always there. And you invite us to be a part of blessing to our neighbors, near next door, and far around the world.
So tonight we want to be aware of, and pray for, people who are facing hardships, or injustice, or violence. We pray to get closer to your kingdom, where there will be no more hurting or killing, because the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
We pray for people experiencing homelessness in Seattle. We pray for people of color in the United States, and gay and lesbian people around the world. We pray for Syria, Iraq, Haiti, and the Central African Republic. We pray for all the places that my friends will name here now…