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  • Writer's pictureMatt Woodcock

#45 Supper.

One of the biggest pains of lockdown has not been able to invite different people round for a meal.

Our dinner table has been depressingly underused.

I’ve missed the laughs and the repartee.

The flow of lively conversation and the warm glow of a lovely atmosphere.

I’ve missed putting a nice shirt on, burning mouths with my chilli and chorizo dish and refilling people’s glasses with delicious wine.

Forget Zoom, the meal table is where you really get to know someone and create community.

For my formidable friend, Jackie - a legend in our parish - it has been particularly irksome.

Before lockdown, every time I popped round, her front room was a sacred scene of beautiful chaos.

Kids, parents, friends, neighbours and all their pet dogs, shoulder to shoulder - and paw to paw - round a huge improvised meal table.

The air filled with talking, laughing, barking - and the frenzied demolition of a steaming Shepherd’s Pie.

Jackie has always made it her mission to share their table whenever possible.

To welcome and befriend.

To create a gathering place where mobiles are outlawed and good food and honest conversation is king.

I always left Jackie’s lounge feeling restored and revived.

She inspired me to take more opportunities to get my invites out, oven on, and table laid.

The psychological and emotional benefits of eating together are well documented.

It makes us feel better.

A proven reliever of conditions like anxiety and depression. And the social disease I see all too often - loneliness.

For me, communal feasting also has spiritual benefits.

The Bible talks of it bringing gladness and strength to the human heart.

Little wonder, then, that Jesus was forever gathering people round the meal table.

In times of joy and celebration - but also in his most anguished moments.

Despite the restrictions, our church is creating a holy table gathering opportunity to mark Maundy Thursday tonight - a poignant Last Supper reenactment.

And on Easter Sunday I’ll be gathering round my in-laws table - albeit outside in the garden.

I’ll be hoping - as an Ancient Greek physician once wrote - that ‘food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.’

And hopefully before too long, it will be everyone back to Jackie’s house again.

I've missed her Shepherd's Pie.

* Painting: The Last Supper, Francis Souza

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