These jars can be quite annoying! They have to be cleaned. They are heavy and can break. And they have to be stored upside down so nothing can fall into them; then turned over to be filled. And so it goes!

But wait! I love the jars and I love the community dinners for the same reason. Please humor me and follow me on the big arch of comparison.

In all my thinking about food and the role it plays in our lives, I have noticed a tendency that I know well from other areas of life. It’s this inhumane obsession, as I see it, to split things up; and then have the parts take center stage in this divided world.

Food becomes calories, vitamins, minerals, fats. It’s microwavable, single serving packaged, nutritionally labeled, whatever. You want to eat healthy, it has to be easy, fast. Sometimes you go out for a special dinner. You want to be conscious and buy local but the Irish butter and the Swiss cheese are by far the best (that’s me speaking personally here). It is a necessity, a task, maybe an annoyance or an addiction. Cleaning up is a chore as nobody likes doing dishes.

So how does it all fit together?

There is this me, me, me aspect of food. It feeds me. I want it to taste good. It has to be good for my health. But in this “me, me, me” world we miss out. We miss the qualities of love, respect, care, community, sharing, exchange and fairness.

This is where the jars and community dinner come together. The jars remind us that our food is a precious gift to our bodies that we can honor when we treat resources respectfully. Community dinners remind us that we have to eat, regardless of our means. The jars and community dinner both connect us with a bigger world and serve our health by reminding us that we are a part of a whole. They invite us to be mindful and grateful – two qualities that will keep our souls and minds healthy like the food does for our bodies.