During one of our college ministry worship services, one of the college leaders led the group in a communion service. Evidently, she had just finished a study on Thich Nhat Hahn, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk. She asked me if it was acceptable to use some of his writings and teachings while reflecting on the communion table. After we chatted a bit, I felt that it was very applicable and offered a new way for Christians to approach communion and enhance their relationship with God.
As she began to speak, I watched the group to gauge their reactions. Most seemed engaged, some interested in where she was going, and some could not tear their eyes away from their phones. Eucharist or communion is a practice of mindfulness she explained. That when we take and eat the bread with the notion of it being Jesus’ flesh, it would require the disciples to be cognizant of the act. This pausing and seeing the bread as something else like Jesus’ flesh, shifted the disciples from being physically there to one of being mentally and spiritually there. Being mindful changed how the disciples saw and interacted with Jesus and one another. If we are not mindful, we become like phantoms or ghosts, here but not here. We have the choice of how to engage our lives, our family and friends, and our surroundings. When we are present and look into another person’s eyes or hear their stories, are we listening as watching a movie with some disengagement from the present moment or are we seeing the person as a living being learning, growing, and discovering what life has to offer and the lessons to be learned along the way?
As we prepare for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other meal times with family and friends, I hope that the business of the season and tasks at hand do not prevent each one of us from being present with one another. Being mindful is integral to being thankful, for it opens our eyes and our senses to the wonder of the world around us. I am thankful for the many groups that I see at Slumber Falls Camp, and I try to practice mindfulness as I observe the programs and sacred interactions that occur here. Spaces like Slumber Falls Camp are important in helping people slow down, focus on what is important, develop skills, and empower them to be agents of change. I hope to see you and your friends in the upcoming year. Blessings upon you and your family and friends!