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Interfaith Interludes: The End of the Table

The table is where we gather to eat, whether at home with family or in religious feasts with family of faith. It symbolizes so much more.

Christians just remembered Jesus’ Last Supper with his disciples on Maundy Thursday. That Table was reconstituted as an ongoing place of Communion for the faithful after his death and resurrection.

Muslims will conclude on April 8 their month-long Ramadan fast with the feast, Eid al-Fitr. After 30 days of self-denial from physical food during daylight hours that calls for concurrent attention to spiritual nourishment, Eid is a taste of sweetness among family and friends. 

Jews will share the Passover seder beginning with the first night on April 22. The meal commemorates the deliverance of the children of Israel from enslavement in Egypt. Also known as the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Passover observance is a reminder not to linger in oppression but to flee it, pursuing freedom with haste.

Most religious rites involving food have some agricultural origin, and fittingly so. Religion is not about one discrete aspect of life but a fulsome expression of all dimensions of it. The various tables of our spiritual rituals touch on the organic, communal and transcendent. They reinforce our connection to the earth, one other, and God.

Joy Harjo served three terms as the U. S. Poet Laureate. She Native American— Muscogee (Creek). Her poem, Perhaps the World Ends Here, begins with these lines: 

The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat to live.

The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the table. So it has been since creation, and it will go on.

It concludes this way:

At this table we sing with joy, with sorrow. We pray of suffering and remorse. We give thanks.

Perhaps the world will end at the kitchen table, while we are laughing and crying, eating of the last sweet bite.

Someone will always sit at the end of our tables, but more important is the end to which our tables point. May it be toward the last sweet bite of togetherness with the earth, each other, and the divine.

~ George A. Mason

5 April 2024

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Thank you for this George, especially prior to Communion Sunday. Very helpful.

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