Carlyn and I were walking into Stop & Shop to get something for dinner. She said, thinking about food, “I’m never going to eat hummus again!”
Knowing how she likes hummus, I was surprised. “Why not?” I asked.
“Do you know what hummus is made of,” she asked, rhetorically.
“Yes. It’s made of chick peas, olive oil, garlic… and sometimes other things.”
“My teacher told us it’s made of rotten stuff, dead bugs, worms and vegetables — stuff that makes things grow. She read it from a book about trees.”
“Carlyn,” I said, carefully, making sure I didn’t laugh, “that’s humus. It looks like the same word, but it’s usually spelled differently, and it’s pronounced differently. Humus is soil. After things die, like leaves, bugs, vegetables and animals, they decay. When you put those things together you call it a compost pile. The soil that comes from the compost is humus.”
I was reminded of The Little Prince — the Fox teaches the Prince to tame him, telling him not to say anything, at first. “Words are the source of misunderstanding,” he warns.
Of course, words can help to connect us. Words can also cause us to feel a deeper sense of separation, or even alienation. Religious words are especially difficult in this regard, since they carry such a variety of meanings, and each of us has two bags full: “Yes, sir, yes, sir, two bags full. One for the master…” Remember that nursery rhyme?
Last Sunday the father of two little girls told me that they are asking questions in response to things their friends are talking about: First Communion, for example. (The Communion Service is called the Eucharist, which comes from the Greek ‘eukharistos,’ which simply means, grateful, thankful.)
I told him that we will be celebrating our annual Thanksgiving corn bread and cider communion on November 21, and the children participate. Giving thanks, expressing appreciation, is central to our notion of what we’re about, what’s holy. Our spiritual life requires a conscious expression of appreciation, gratitude — thanks giving.
There are, of course, a variety of interpretations of the Eucharist Service, which was taken from the so-called Last Supper — the Passover meal Jesus shared with his friends.
The expression of thanks, or appreciation, is ultimately a very personal, private act. It is enhanced by sharing it with family and friends. Communion is the act of sharing.
Yes, humus is made of decayed matter, or chick peas, depending which you mean. I hope you’ll be here for our Family Thanksgiving service, translating old meanings to new.
On Saturday at 12:30 we’ll celebrate the life of Carl Erca, giving thanks for his gifts, his influence and ongoing spirit. A Memorial Service is a kind of communion — a way of saying ‘thanks.’ I hope things are going well with you, and I look forward to seeing you again, soon.