Today is Feast for Friends day. It is Feast for Friends day every third Sunday of the month and it has been thus since October 2010 a few months after we moved to our now home city.
When we were finished with all the things that occupied our time with the mechanics of the move from one city to another it was time to settle in. One of the things that I thought a lot about was how I wanted to actively expand our circle of friends. This is not always easy in a new city particularly when you do not work for a large company with lots of employees or participate in other large gatherings on a regular basis. So where does one start? How does one proceed?
Well I like food and believe that food is a good way to connect people. Everyone likes to eat. I also come from a large hospitable family so I am not frightened by the thought of preparing food for others. I am also not afraid of having a large group gather in my home, I actually like it a lot. I learned a tremendous amount from my Babaand my parents about what it means to be generous and welcoming, about having guests in my home.
I want friends in my life but I am also very interested in the broader concept of community. I believe that a true sense of community is often lacking in our world that is based in an economic model and in an atmosphere where separateness and thus isolation abound. In our haste to acquire the might dollar we sometimes lose sight of our ability to contribute and participate in our community (if it exists). Making a choice to establish community where it does not exist or to enhance that which does is a choice that I feel I have.
So thus the idea of the Feast for Friends emerged. The idea was simple: we would pick a regular date (in this case every third Sunday); we would invite people we knew and a few we did not know but knew of; we asked the people we invited to bring another friend whom they thought might enjoy the feast; we included and encouraged all ages in the invite; we would ask everyone to bring some food; and we would see what happened.
We saw it as a chance to prepare food together, a chance to have interesting conversations, a chance to share good food together, and a chance to get to know one another. It was opportunity for us to widen our circle of friends and at the same time offer several people the comfort and warmth of a good-old fashioned family style dinner. It was an opportunity to establish community.
Today is the 17th Feast for Friends day for us. Every one of the seventeen feasts has been wonderful. The crowd has ranged from a small group of 6 of us to a crowd of 19. People have come and gone, moving away and then coming back. People have joined us as visitors to the city and several people are hard-core regulars. Some people seem to really like the concept and see the value in bringing people together to share and grow community but at the same time seem to have a difficult time bringing themselves into the fold. Others are shy and just need time. This is another opening for me to practice my patience and let individuals join us when they are able. Those who have taken part in this event seem to always leave with a smile on their face and full, satisfied belly.
We have had such a great assortment of delicious food that has allowed each of us to explore and expand our tastes. Somehow we always managed to gather everyone around the table to enjoy each other’s company and the variety of food. Sharing food, stories and laughter has been a boon to all in attendance. What an enjoyable way to improve one’s health and well-being!
It has been amazing that we have always had the right combinations and amounts of food and the selection to make the event an absolute feast. I sometimes worry that no one will bring dessert but I have never been disappointed.
We will continue to share our food, time, conversation and connections. We look forward to an ever-expanding circle of friends and more delicious food. We will continue to benefit from our ever-evolving community.
Irene McDermott © 2012