This year during Lent, instead of Sunday morning Forums at 9 am, Family Ministry and Adult Formation hosted intergenerational “Wondering Together” potluck lunches in the Great Hall after the 10:30 am service. Everyone in the St. Paul’s community was invited to bring a dish to share and wonder together about topics essential to our Christian faith. Each week the potluck tables were overflowing with a diverse and delicious spread of food. It was clear that many had worked hard on their dishes and everyone had the chance to try something new.
Each Sunday, our time of fellowship opened with a prayer offered by Maya, Keke, or Angel. We then heard a story, often created by ChatGPT, related to the day’s topic. With others at our table, we were invited to share our responses to three or four “wondering questions” that invited us to explore and think about how these stories are woven into our lived experiences. We wondered about Jesus (February 26), the Bible (March 2), prayer (March 19), and our mission as Christians together (March 26). Unfortunately, we could not wonder about worship on March 12 due to an electrical outage staged by mysterious gremlins.
It was heartwarming to see so many parishioners gather together each week, especially the children. Some parishioners brought relatives or friends. One woman from North County, who happened to be walking by St. Paul’s noticed we were having a potluck and decided to join my table to learn what Episcopalians are all about. One parishioner noted that these weekly gatherings filled a need for some of our community neighbors for a home-cooked meal in a safe environment.
For me, the Wondering Together experiment not only nourished my body, but it nourished my soul. It was a deeply humbling experience. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel said, “The surest way to suppress our ability to understand the meaning of God…is to take things for granted.” Each week, for the better part of an hour, I was pulled back from taking for granted the day, the hour, and the people in our community, those seen and often unseen.
As I write this, I am reminded of what Maya said in her letter (February 23rd), “The spirituality of wonder draws us out of ourselves and allows us to live in the moment and be attuned to the glorious ways God moves in our lives.” I never expected the sacred to show up in my ordinary life at a potluck lunch. But it happened. Inhabiting the present moment and seeking the wonder therein I realized that God and the sacred were not “over there” somewhere, but right where I was.
Each week, as those at my table responded to the prompts for discussion, shared stories about their lives, or drifted to other topics, I regained perspective on life. Wondering with others encouraged me to practice listening, and to allow myself to risk being open about myself; something I am often reluctant to do with most people. I appreciated the opportunity to learn what others had to teach me. And, I was reminded that I am just one small part of God’s creation. How lovely it was to feel the closeness of others and of God.
Cultivating the spirituality of wonder takes practice. We are always in the ‘moment’ even if we are not always inhabiting the moment. So, friends, I’d like to invite you to join me to continue to cultivate and practice the sense of wonder, of curiosity, in the everyday, in who we are with, and where we are.