Thoughts from the Annual Gathering by Barry Watson

Castlemilk Parish Church recently joined Eco-Congregation Scotland and Barry Watson took part in our Annual Gathering on 20th April. The Gathering this year was all about food. After the Gathering Barry wrote to us and we would like to share his thoughts (with his permission of course) with you.

Firstly, thank you for a very interesting, helpful and absorbing day – my first attendance at the Gathering.  Once I can download the slides etc from the website, I will have plenty to work with for our ‘Project’ – a new Church building in the centre of our Castlemilk and fit for the 21st century – something which is going to take at least the next three to four years.  

The discussion on food reminded me of a quotation I took a note of quite ‘a while ago’, which I am sure your team will find useful if they do not already have it.

“We share bread and wine which symbolise all the ways in which human beings live together and tear each other to pieces.”

Think of the domination, exploitation and pollution of man and nature that goes with bread, all the bitterness that goes with competition and class struggle, all the organised selfishness of tariffs and price rings, all the wicked oddity of a world distribution that brings plenty to some and malnutrition to others, bringing them to that symbol of poverty which we call the breadline.

And wine too – fruit of the vine and work of human hands, the wine of holidays and weddings, the wine that loosens you up inside and so is such a good symbol of forgiveness, wine which is water and fire in one. This wine is also the bottle, the source of some of the most tragic forms of human degradation, drunkenness, broken homes, sensuality and debt.

When we take bread and wine we take all of this; our attempts and failures to live together, all that is ugly and all that is beautiful and offer them to God to make sense of them and to consecrate.”

From “Our home encloses treachery and death”, Arguments for Easter, Tim Radcliffe OP, Independent 23 March 1989
And a personal reflection on ‘the spiritual significance of sharing food’.   Last year, my elderly mother, who is now very frail and also blind, was in hospital on her 88th birthday.  I took in a birthday cake (with permission, of course), which was also shared among the other patients on the ward.  Then there was the problem of how do you actually try to eat a piece of cake which you can not see and will crumble when you try?  I had to help, of course. I was concentrating on being very  practical, while thinking ‘I am spoon feeding my own mother’.    I don’t remember thinking anything particularly ‘spiritual’ at this point,  but on reflection perhaps this was just such a moment which ‘the spiritual significance of sharing food’ is all about. My Mum is still with us..
Thank you again for [the Gathering].
Peace be with you.
Yours sincerely
Barry Watson
Castlemilk Parish Church