Courage to Share
By Callie Smith, Program Manager for Lifelong Theological Education, Christian Theological Seminary
I don’t mean to be anti-social, but sometimes I just want to eat alone.
I know that’s not the “right” thing to say. Sharing meals is valuable—so valuable that even an introvert like me does it again and again. For instance, when summer students had their annual dinner last night at the seminary where I work, I stayed late. It was a long day, but we only see each other one week a year, and there’s a reason we remember one another’s names: we eat together.
It takes a lot of energy, focus, and heart to eat with others: learning about new people, remembering things about “old” ones, conversing with people so different from me I sometimes don’t know where to start. Plus, things can go wrong. I know the dread of bringing a friend to a family barbeque knowing that both friend and family are deeply committed to their religious beliefs—which are very, very different. I’ve seen even high-volume clans fall utterly silent over those kinds of dinner table discoveries.
All the more reason to share meals. When we’re ready to risk encountering others with life experiences we ourselves have never known, when introverts have recharged our batteries and extroverts have paused to think through what they’ve said and heard, when we’ve set aside our own hang-ups enough to relish the lives others live, when we are even willing to hurt over one another’s hurts, then the courage to open up our lives to other human beings can bring downright adventure.
I have high hopes for this 15th year of the Spirit & Place Festival, November 5-14, 2010. The “Food for Thought” theme will bring plenty of space for enjoyment and laughter, as well as difficult conversations. I’ll be co-hosting the November 10th event “Unexpected Guests at the Table,” with interfaith storytelling and dialogue over issues of hunger and responses of faith. Let’s just say that I’m already gearing up for the challenge and the festivities. I hope you are, too.