“When you have more than you need, build a longer table, not a higher fence.”
In the undercroft (basement) of St. Stephen’s Cathedral, there’s a rumble as I walk down the stairs. Sycamore House members hustle around the kitchen, stirring soup or crafting pizza crust or pouring pancake batter. We arrange tables and set up chairs, creating a space that will bring people together. We run back and forth between the undercroft and the house, getting everything we need before it all settles into place, just in time.
Guests arrive, many graciously bringing their own offerings of a delicious dish or dessert, but most of all offering themselves, truly gracing us with their presence. We share in a brief welcome and grace, and at last, sit down to break bread together.
When I first decided (right around this time last year) to be part of Sycamore House, one of the things that called to me most was the very scene here, community dinner. Every other week, we welcome anyone to join us for a meal and time spent together.
Sometimes it’s a cozy group of familiar faces we know well. Sometimes it’s a big, messy-in-a-good-way, hodge-podge group of visitors such as co-workers and new friends. Every time, it’s a chance to share hospitality and be present to each other, a chance that I’m so thankful for. There’s something special about sitting down across from someone you don’t know or don’t usually talk with much and just having a conversation. It’s a gift to be able to find out what’s on their mind, or what they’re looking forward to, or to learn things you never expected about that person.
These community meals serve as physical food, but much more importantly as spiritual food through these connections and conversations. In these moments, we answer the call to live in community with one another and to see the face of God in those we encounter. We are living in a time when, as always, it is so necessary to welcome the stranger, to make sure there is a place for everyone at the table. May we all continue to answer this call in some small way each day.