the prompt was to tell a tale of 2 meals – one wonderful, one not
I’ll begin with the not-so-wonderful meal. I actually can’t remember the meal, just what happened next.
I was a Peace Corps volunteer for a very brief time in the South Pacific. We were a small group of 12 and hadn’t been in the country for very long when, naive traveler that I was, I ate something at a market and ended up with food poisoning. This was not my first time away from home or even living with a bunch of relative strangers in close quarters, but it was my first time being sick and requiring care by people who weren’t family members or really even close friends. I spent a whole night curled up on a bed in the humid dark cement block room, vomiting over and over again. When it was finally over I realized I had gone through a rite of passage – that of feeling and looking incredibly wretched and vulnerable in front of strangers.
The wonderful meal I remember wasn’t a proper meal at all. It was Communion at a women’s retreat some years ago. One of the women attending had recently been diagnosed with cancer just days before and was going to begin an aggressive round of treatment for it. There were some 40 women at this retreat and we spent the weekend passing around a prayer shawl started for her on Friday night and finished on Sunday morning. We wrapped it around her shoulders and passed bread and wine to each other around the circle. It is a favorite memory of mine.