If you find yourself in Victoria Park in Kitchener, Ont., on a Thursday evening in the summertime, wander down the tree-lined path and over the bridge until you reach the island. You will pass families from many cultures out for an evening stroll or a drum circle under the gazebo. Keep going. Just past the gazebo you will find a colourful mismatched collection of blankets and tablecloths spread with an abundant feast: a potluck picnic in the park.
For the past three summers we potluck picnickers have spent an evening a week eating together and enjoying each other’s company, as well as the company of weeping willows and noisy families of geese. Our gatherings range from two to 20 people, and it’s rarely the same group from one week to the next, but since everyone brings food to share and their own plates and blankets, there is no set-up or clean-up to do and no need for an RSVP.
Many of my fellow potluck picnickers are youngish adults living in the downtown Kitchener vicinity who are either currently active in a local Mennonite church or have grown up in a Mennonite church but no longer attend. The conversation that happens on our picnic blankets ranges from talk of the food that’s on our plates, and the farmers and gardeners who grew it, or analysis of the latest bike lanes in town and how that will affect our commuting times, to rousing discussions of global, city or church politics, and everything in between.
Sometimes we have disagreements. Sometimes we talk about God and sometimes we don’t. Potluck picnics in the park are not church, a Bible study or even a small group in the traditional sense, but it’s certainly a sacred space.
—Posted Feb. 11, 2015
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