For a time, we were a people set apart, a tiny nation of people with white-dotted noses and white-streaked chins. For a season, we were a people who could barely chew, but who could still laugh.
It started when one of our staff members found a recipe for skillet-baked S’mores, with peanut butter thrown in for good measure. We had it for dessert last night. It was sticky and hardening by the minute and a major league challenge to eat.
Everyone struggled. Everyone laughed. Everyone tried to eat with the best of manners. But everyone was trying to manage unmanageable forkfuls of white, toffee-like clumps and strands that stretched from plate to fork to everywhere in between. Everyone was at risk of white dots and streaks – if not on themselves, then on their trays and plates – like tribal markings of a people who had never learned how to eat.
In the interest of decorum, many rested their forks and did not proceed further. Some of us forged onward, undeterred.
It was hilarious. But more importantly, it was one of those unexpected, never-could-have-planned-it moments that help make community life the graced endeavor that it is. Our lives are marked by a great deal of seriousness of purpose and gravity of intent. But the seriousness of our monastic call is leavened with the relaxed and gentle ease of day-to-day community life – the casual conversation at meal time, the relaxed gathering around the puzzle table or a TV show. A walk in the evening. A shared glass of iced tea in mid-afternoon. An interesting magazine article passed hand-to-hand.
The innumerable happenstance encounters of day-to-day life are what make a monastic community a true community. And then there is the occasional shared hilarity when together we find ourselves trying to gracefully consume a chocolaty/marshmallowy/peanut buttery confection, or some other humorous happening. These things, too, help bind us together (literally, in this case) as we create shared memories and family stories.
I think that our time in S’morelandia will be one of those stories that gets remembered and re-told. Thank goodness there were no pictures taken.
Postscript: It tasted great!