Archive for 11 March 2018

Cabin Fever and Creativity   Leave a comment

“It’s a good thing to give thanks, whatever your tradition, or none. So we’ll have a moment of quiet. Simply listen, if you  like, to the others near you, breathing”, says the pastor opening last night’s community dinner.

One of the joys of rural New England life is the Cabin Fever dinner tradition. These early spring events are a true “moveable feast” — held in churches, cafeterias, grange halls, schools — sometime in March or April, anywhere there’s a willing core of people dedicated to making community happen. Neighbors get called together from the more private hunkering down we all do each winter, watching wood-piles diminish, the inevitable March storms re-establish banks of snow that had been shrinking after the midwinter thaw, squinting at sky and trees, feeling the light linger a few minutes more at either end of day, scolded by the indomitable chickadees, uplifted at the distant honking of a flock of geese winging north again, at long last.

IMG_1717

We’re crammed, atheist and Pagan, Christian and agnostic, Jew and animist, into the sanctuary of the local Congregational Church for the 13th spring in a row — a lunar year of springs. Tables and chairs from a local high school have been set up, filling the space to the stairwell. There are no pews. After the original church burned down years ago, our community vowed to rebuild a maximally flexible space, church and community center both.

Our local Cabin Fever dinner draws attendees from half a dozen nearby towns, in part because the pastor’s husband is a trained master chef who volunteers his skills for each year’s feast, but also because of the tradition of storytelling that proceeds throughout the dinner, as neighbors rise, take the microphone — there are over 200 of us here this evening, and for the first time the pastor had to turn away a few score later-comers — intermittently interrupt conversations, and regale us with stories of the quirks and humors of country living, encounters with moose and fisher cats, chimney fires, deaths and births, lost cows and sheep, found dogs and children.

The evening opens and ends with announcements, car lights left on, alerts that the bears have begun to emerge again from hibernation, hungry and ill-humored as always, that the Green Team meeting has been moved to Friday afternoons, that tryouts for the world music chorus will take place the following Saturday.

A few of us scurry to the basement kitchen after the announcement that packaged leftovers are available for an open donation. We leave with two cartons of roasted vegetables for the next day’s lunch.

Here is our prayer and our praise, our magic and our offering: we manage to come together again, we learn anew that it’s worth listening to each other for the sad-funny turns life takes us all on, that we can recognize in each other, for all the differences of temperament and history and desire, a common table, light and talk and laughter into a cold spring evening.

There’s been no preaching or teaching, only what we bring to each other out of our lives and stories, the best kind, lived last month, yesterday, in the parking lot before coming in.

With such things we do not solve or resolve, so much as we celebrate as we struggle. We sing as we go on.

/|\ /|\ /|\

 

 

Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: