Re: openings before meals
From: Mac Thomson (
Date: Fri, 2 Feb 2007 07:38:16 -0800 (PST)
What Eris said here 'resonates' with me. (Now there's a word that entered my vocabulary through cohousing.) I hadn't thought about it much, but not going through our little meal gathering ritual would leave me empty in a way. It's a celebration of coming together. Here's our routine:

- 1st bell rings about 10 minutes before meal time. It's a big bell out on the front porch of the common house. People start to gather. - 2nd bell rings. People should have already gathered. Many haven't of course. :-)
 - Someone, usually a cook, announces "Circle Up".
 - We all hold hands in a circle around the buffet table.
 - The cooks lead the circle which includes:
     - Introduce who the cooks are and any helpers.
     - Introduce the food: veggie options, no dairy, spicy, etc.
     - Introduce guests.
     - Brief announcements from anyone.
     - A blessing (often one or another short song we've learned).
 - People arriving late quietly enter the circle.

Our blessing can be anything (cook's choice). It's usually pretty pagan, but on occasion will be Jewish or Christian. We're generally pretty good at embracing and celebrating (or at least tolerating) each other's spiritual expression, rather than taking offense -- although we too went through the big "celebrating Christmas in the common house" issue a number of years ago.

Cheers and blessings,

Mac Thomson

Heartwood Cohousing
Southwest Colorado

"It is a worthy thing to fight for one's own freedom; it is another sight finer to fight for another man's."
                - Mark Twain

On Feb 1, 2007, at 3:17 PM, cohousing-l-request [at] wrote:

Message: 3
Date: Thu, 1 Feb 2007 08:59:14 -0800
From: "Eris Weaver" <erisw [at]>
Subject: Re: [C-L]_ openings before meals
To: <cohousing-l [at]>
Message-ID: <000001c74622$517c9520$e85a8e40 [at]>
Content-Type: text/plain;       charset="us-ascii"

At FrogSong, we have some kind of blessing before every meal; it's up to
the cook to decide what it might be. Often it is a poem or other
inspirational reading; it might be a moment of silence; a song,
participatory or not. This follows any announcements, acknowledgement of
the cooks, etc.

I hadn't realized how much I have internalized and enjoy this opening
ritual until I was recently visiting another cohousing community for
dinner. I sat down at the table and waited, while everyone else just
started digging into the food...the folks at my table kind of looked at me, wondering why I wasn't eating...while I sat there wondering why they
weren't, well, paying attention and noting the specialness of all
sitting down together to eat. We had a nice discussion about the whole
issue, and several folks asked if there wasn't any resistance to this
ritual being too religious or something.

That's never been an issue here...folks' personal religious/spiritual
orientations run from non-observant Jews & lapsed Catholics to active
Unitarians and Buddhists and pagans and everything in between. (I,when
pressed, label myself a Recovering Catholic Atheist with Strong
Neo-Pagan tendencies) There is much respect here for each other's paths, recogniction that truth comes in many packages, and a belief that making
space for small intentional rituals is part of the glue that binds us

FrogSong, a Cohousing Community in Cotati, CA

Eris Weaver
Facilitation & Group Process Consultant
eris [at]

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