You see it seems that our www.newsabbathproject.com has attracted the attention of Julius Lelmket — a Christian Minister from the rift valley in Kenya who has adapted our Friday night tradition to his locality while keeping the pluralistic and inclusive flavour that we hold so dear. We contribute a bit of money to make sure that Julius can lay out a bit of a feast for those who come to take part, in some cases from a fair distance, to join him and his family as they light candles, do blessings and share time together to talk about things that matter and create community — one meal at a time.
We are learning about Julius and his community and we are learning something about ourselves as well. I’ll be honest — at first we were a bit worried about engaging in a relationship with someone so far away who wanted to join in our project but needed a little monetary help. The idea activated all my middle class radar screens. Were we in a genuine relationship? Did others see us Westerners as mere dollar signs? Blah blah blah. What we realized by breathing through that nonsense was that Julius and his community were doing a wonderful thing – bringing in Christians and what he refers to as “non-believers” alike – into his home.
Julius, his wife and children have now hosted two New Sabbath dinners and have shared some wonderful rituals with us through our ongoing communication.
He writes ”Children were excited to be served with a delicious meals. Some of them are from poor families and eat only one meal a day. They rarely have drinks like tea in their homes”. He writes that his “community culture” has a specific way of sharing news and ideas. They call it “eating words” and this was conversation dominated their first New Sabbath Project. When adults meet, even if they are just traveling and therefore passing through. They have to stop, take some time and converse. They begin by asking, “How are your children? Then they extend that question to other people and finally to cows. By doing this Julius and his community find out how families are doing, both children and adults, what the weather and agricultural conditions are and the state of their cattle which are revered as sacred. They share valuable information on disease outbreak, war and community. Beats the hell out of “Hey, how’s it going?”
He tells us that after supper, one community elder blessed all the guests including the children. Since cow and milk is revered as sacred among the Maasai community, any blessing must involve the cow, ie: cow milk, cheese or cow or horn. The elder has to splash cow milk to people and says “Enkai(God),be ours, bless this people young and old alike, let all diseases leave them, their enemy’s weapon to be bland, give them peace prosperity. Let our cows multiply. Let their legs and hands be strong.
As the sun rises in the morning, bring hope to community the Maasai where there were. God be near to us and far to our enemies, who hates us and wish us bad omens. The food we eaten to give us health and strength, let this night be peaceful, Naa I!”
This unexpected connection with Julius is something that has made us realize that perhaps the next phase of our New Sabbath Project is to find and twin with communities all over the world and find others who will do the same. Encouraging people to gather and share food and ideas — building community one meal at a time.
Please let us know if you have any ideas of communities that we can reach out to — to help them create Friday nights where they too can build a fence around the sacred. Light some candles, say blessings to whatever or whomever you’d like as you go around the table but more importantly — know that you are sharing this space in time with others.