Dear Inner Circle,

You may have heard that variety is the spice of life. Unknowingly my family brought spice and variety to this country. Grandma (Patti) and mum would regularly whip up exotic dishes for dinner, rarely the same one was served up twice. We were the talk of the town and neighbours would love walking past asking what was being served. This was the 1980s and Asian food was just getting a foothold into Australian culture. It struck me as something of an oddity at that time when I visited a friend’s house to be informed that every Tuesday night was, ‘spag-bol’ and Thursdays was, ‘chops and three veg’ nights. Every single week. I couldn’t understand it and certainly didn’t appreciate it.

In some families, just as in some churches or social clubs, the word “ritual” is usually cited as a ground on which some part of the culture has flatlined and in need of new life. Likewise “ritual” is often cited as that which makes the association precious, to be preserved, honoured and carefully observed. I recall many times hearing my young voice name the word “ritual” loaded with judgement against something that I thought shallow. As I grow older, I find myself holding fast to certain rituals that help set healthy rhythms and remind us of the more traditional, but important things. Particularly in these COVID days, I love the precious pattern of shared meals. Even in my own family, our regular appointments around the table helps each one of us remember that we are important to each other. I guess most of us eat watching a screen, but beware, we are in danger of forgetting how important a partner is, or an uncle or aunty, a sister, a parent, or a neighbour. Be on your guard, for while most of us declare that we long for a more meaningful life, most of us choose comfort and convenience.

There are so many reasons to be thankful for those who work in a kitchen in order to create community. Our Wayside cooks are as fine as any example. A member of our Bondi community shows up early to cook porridge for our visitors at our Community Services Centre, rain, hail or shine, when it is convenient and when it isn’t. No doubt, some scoff this lovely meal down as if it was their last. Some know that they receive a gift. Some may, perhaps when we least expect it, recognise not just good food, but an act of love that warms and satisfies. Nothing is quite so easily overlooked as an act of love and today I pay tribute to the many cooks throughout my life who loved me without thanks and for the many cooks at Wayside who put love into every dish served every day.

Thanks for being part of our Inner Circle,

Jon

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