The Movable Feast

26 Nov

In my faith tradition there is a thing called a “movable feast”.  Sounds strange, doesn’t it?

A movable feast, as contrasted to a fixed feast, is an observance in the church’s calendar which occurs on different dates in different years..thus, movable.  The observance won’t be on the same date every year because the calendar changes.  So there you have it.

Easter, Palm Sunday, Pentecost, among many other observances, are examples of movable feast times.

But today I declare that I am a movable feast because this morning I joined several friends to cook a meal for a local shelter that provides lodging for homeless men.  My job in the cooking routine is to stand at the huge stove and cook big tubs of meat mixed with onions, green peppers, beans, lots of chili powder, some corn and a smattering of other exotic ingredients.  The final meat mixture is then combined with steaming rice, wrapped carefully in large containers and delivered to the shelter for the evening meal.

I’ve noticed, though, that when driving home after the meal preparation I carry with me the lingering aroma of onions and all the other spicy ingredients.  You should see the looks I get if I decide to make a shopping stop before taking a shower at home.   Stray dogs follow me down the sidewalk.  I am a walking, movable feast!  I guess that’s not so bad, however, because  in my faith tradition there is also the encouragement to become “bread for the world”, to provide nourishment for people in need, and to feed those who are hungry.  To do those things is our highest calling, not just to believe the right things and say the right words.  But it occurs to me that my movable feast fragrance might be offensive to some people.  At least that’s the way it seems when glances come my way at the hardware store before getting home to the shower.   I wonder why some people are offended and others seem not to be?  Maybe there’s a hint out of the faith tradition again – those who are fed, filled and satisfied sometimes breathe in life in different ways than those who are hungry and have no prospect of a daily meal. Strange, isn’t it, how one’s senses are dulled by plenty and sharpened by poverty.  Sadly strange how the smell of onions and peppers sometimes offends the nourished but delights the neglected.

Perhaps, instead of delivering the meal to the shelter and then driving to my comfort zone, I need to make my hardware stop in that particular part of town — better yet, maybe I need to take some individual servings of that fragrant meal in the back of my van.  Here comes the Movable Feast.


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