“Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable unto thee, our strength and our redeemer.” Now, don’t tune out—even non-believers’ holiday and other shared meals could be more nourishing if this pre-sermon prayer from former Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church pastor Dr. David Read is adapted for the “first course.” Change “my mouth” to “our mouths,” and while non-believers will eschew “thee,” believers will welcome any reverent term in an ever more irreverent culture. Of course, non-believers will alter “the strength and redeemer” part to something else to bring the assembled harmoniously together so no one is left out—and the talk is not trivial, but even something to address the everyday needs of those assembled.
But you get the idea, simply that what’s said “over the plate” is more critical to overall health than “what’s served on top of it.” And if just a fraction of the attention given to the latter were devoted to the former, meals, relationships and even society and “the economy” would be healthier. There’d be fewer reasons to overeat, which so inordinately worries today’s social engineers, and less reason to over-drink, which even clergy, medics and law enforcers, so “inordinately” overlook.
Of course, we don’t forget that many dine solo, even on “family holidays,” or overlook anti-social customs, like age segregation and “no one staying in one place anymore.” And may faith groups give as much attention to congregational needs as they do to providing food and shelter for “the homeless” (change that odious term to “persons without homes.”)
We hope, for example, that Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church will revive its “Thanksgiving at the Church” tradition in which clergy, members and community residents prepared, served and shared this holiday meal together. And the best and last course was the sing-a-long led by Karen Luxton and Charles Gourgey.
Ah, singing is so good for what ails us—benevolent songs, that is—and with some social critique lyrics like “doesn’t anyone stay in one place anymore?” And while some grumble that 106.7 FM is playing holiday songs too soon, those allergic to rock and rap say “Can’t come too soon for us!” But get some Chanukah songs into the mix, along with some Bing, Frank, Judy, Louis, Nat, Perry and Rosie (Clooney that is).
As for that all important “shared gathering talk,” well, not so much about food and sports, and let political talk be about actions—like stopping MTA cuts and fare hikes, and getting commercial rent regulations so not to lose any more neighborhood shops and diners. (Save Second Avenue Subway and other eminent domain victims too!)
And although told “it’s impossible,” grateful patrons of Café 79 diner (79th and First) hope the landlord will be a true hero and grant it an affordable lease, even with a developer reportedly lusting after this whole low-rise block. Countless New Yorkers are grateful for 38 years of this “family diner” place to break bread with friendly exchanges, ample counter space, two-size booths and kindly non-fluorescent lights. (Bring back booths big-time, kindly incandescent lights that “can’t see the forest for the trees” government plans to ban.)
Members of the A.A. Workshop and St. Monica’s Church next door will miss Café 79 too, but did they take an action to save it? Ah, do know how thankful I am fo
Tags: Dewing Things Better
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