January 25 – Community
S’More Community, Please
Read: Matthew 25:34-40
It was a beautiful evening in Kings Canyon National Park, one filled with a slight breeze that quickly excused the heat we had experienced all day. Our campground was carved into a scene that is difficult to recreate with words. Originally granite thousands of years ago, time and weather had turned the mountains encircling us into marble – smooth and impenetrable – carved through by a river that over time had created for itself a bed of incomprehensible beauty. The roar of the river served as a continuous backdrop, upon which birds overlaid their chirps, fires their crackles and children their laughter.
It was in this place of relative peace that my attention was drawn to an RV lumbering into my serenity, drowning out the natural noise and replacing it with the drone of an oversized engine tired from lugging a small house up and down these oversized mountains.
The driver’s name was Thomas and, through a thick European accent, I learned that he and his family were from Switzerland and were passing through this remote location as part of a months-long road trip. As soon as it felt natural to move on from the requisite small talk, together we marveled at our surroundings before returning to our respective campsites.
Later that evening, our family had just begun making s’mores when Thomas and his family walked ever-so-cautiously over to us. As they approached it was with an expectation of being accepted, of being welcomed. Our entire family (all 15 of us!) simultaneously stood up, inched our multi-colored canvas chairs back, and added 4 more chairs to the circle.
As they looked curiously upon our ritual of marshmallow roasting, their eyes beckoned for an explanation of what we were doing. Someone in the group described the process of making s’mores, and as Thomas and his family listened, they nodded along, noting that they had heard of our American ritual but had never before experienced it.
So we stuck marshmallows on the end of sticks and taught them how to roast to perfection, then laid the hot, gooey marshmallows on top of the chocolate and sandwiched it between two pieces of Graham cracker.
Their faces displayed curiosity, a bit of enjoyment, and overall a sense of acceptance in this unique practice – a ritual experienced countless times by us, but by them for the first time.
In this simple act, community was being built. There was a connection being made between people who were willing to ask questions, to learn, to be shaped by each other. Like the marshmallow dripping over the edge of the Graham cracker, this sacramental moment was bursting with Christ’s presence. And it was delicious.
God, please make me aware of places I can build spontaneous or long-term community today.