HOSTING A SOUL SOUP
Whether you want to gather a new community or already have a community you would like to go deeper with, we have some practical tips for heart, mind, and body.
Joyful celebration of life.
Intellectual stimulation through thematic connection of ideas.
Recipes to rejoice in the pleasures of the sensory; action to mobilize ideas.
Help people feel at home from the moment they arrive:
Place simple decorations at the entrance; use a chalkboard to show the menu; use scented candles and music to set a positive sensory mood; no matter how stressful your day, let the pleasure of seeing the others show.
Choosing a theme or central idea, find passages from a variety of sources that point to similar ideas; ask questions that show curiosity about other people's perspectives and rejoice in the differences; be open to the limitations of your own perspective; grapple with the personal (and group) implications of a particular idea.
Rejoice in the sensory food experience; explore seasonal fruits and vegetables from a farmer's market; try a traditional recipe from someone you love; be open to new tastes and textures; be filled with the joy of celebrating with food with others - the pure blessing of abundance.
As you open your home, open your heart. How can you physically invite people into your space?
"Prepare them" ideas:
Send hand-written invitations for the evening
Light the path to your door
Write the menu on a chalkboard in the entryway
Have different colored pipe cleaners to make into something the guest can wear. Each color symbolizes where they are in the journey for the evening's topic.
Example Question: To what extent does fear govern your decisions?
Red - Fear is a constant and greatly influences my choices
Yellow - I'm aware that fear influences me, perhaps more than it should, but I don't feel I'm ruled by it.
Green - I'm focused on abundance and the positive. Fear might surprise me, but it does not feel central to my choices.
Invite people to participate in the evening's preparation: chopping vegetables, setting the table, making coffee, pouring drinks, etc. I know it goes against the traditional "hospitality," but community is about being more like family than a host.
Be prepared to laugh easily and often.
Loving people means respecting their viewpoint, their perspective and experiences. Create a refuge for people to be themselves, even if that means asking the disruptive questions they may not be allowed to ask elsewhere.
Place a provocative question underneath two or three people's plates. Whoever has a question, reads it and has the option of leading the discussion around it. Questions can have depth, such as, "How have you been expressing love to people you love? Have they been receiving it?"
Additional quotes to talk about the practicality of loving...
What practical implications does this approach to loving have for a parent? For a spouse? For dating?
“The beginning of love is the will to let those we love be perfectly themselves, the resolution not to twist them to fit our own image. If in loving them we do not love what they are, but only their potential likeness to ourselves, then we do not love them: we only love the reflection of ourselves we find in them”
― Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island
"Love others as you would love yourself, judge others as you would judge yourself, cherish others as you would cherish yourself. When you wish for others as you wish for yourself and when you protect others as you would protect yourself, that's when you can say it's true love." - Confucius
How do we learn to love ourselves, so we can love others? How much does self-sabotage and early self-image influence how we love ourselves?
How does the way we interact with the world show the nature of the Divine?
"See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him." - 1 John 3:1
We appreciate the sensory pleasure of good food. For example:
Spring rolls - easy and fun to make together
Thai Red Curry Soup - modify the spice for the audience (they can always add more individually)
Caramel Macchiato Cheesecake - It's not Thai, but the creamy cheesecake tempers the remaining spice.
At the end of the evening, perhaps over dessert and coffee, as the discussion is winding down, a very important question needs to be asked: "How then shall we live?"
The responses could vary from a slightly new way of seeing ourselves or others to an action plan toward social justice.
Take notes on people's responses, so that when you see each other again, you can ask how their action plan is going and provide encouragement and support.