Feast — Karen Campbell, UK

Karen writes, ‘This poem is in part autobiographical, speaking of my family, but also about the Church and world.’

Consider sharing this at a communion service.

Mummy says ‘Come, for the feast is spread!’
She cracks the sweet between her teeth;
A piece for you, a piece for me,
No one on top, no one beneath.

Daddy says ‘Come, a treat for you!’
A pound to share for seven hands –
And youthful minds can rest content,
Each one, their share, full understands.

But that was then, a simpler time,
Held safe within a warm embrace,
To twist and grow and push and test,
But know my place was mine; my place!

And this is now – a different world;
A life to live beyond the fold,
Holding tight to what I’ve known
To keep me safe against the cold.

For in this world, one thing I’ve learned –
My place no longer is secure;
And who or what or where I am,
Of these I simply can’t be sure;

For every time I plant my feet,
Say ‘this is me!’ and make a stand,
Someone, something, within, without,
Re-draws the line in shifting sand.

Mummy says ‘Come for the feast is spread!’
From all directions we would fly;
All different, and yet all the same
Beneath a Daddy’s watchful eye.

Ahh… this is life! But soon we’d learn
That life is not a simple fare,
Which welcomes each, and welcomes all
And gives and takes our measured share.

And I don’t grudge the other’s lot,
Don’t ask for free what I could earn,
And neither want to hold inside
That which I have and could return.

Mummy says ‘Come, for the feast is spread!’
We were too young yet to conceive
We had gifts too that we could give;
So we were happy to receive.

They say ‘Come, a feast is spread!
Come join us in our happy throng;
Come sing and dance and praise like us,
Then to our feast you will belong.

‘There’s no difference, we’re the same
Before the God who made us all,
So hurry now from every place
In answer to the open call.’

But don’t you see, we’re not the same –
We’re different, as we’re meant to be,
For God created humankind
In all our rich diversity.

The feast you’ve spread, no feast at all
If nothing there from my own hand;
The finest food which you have laid
Becomes for me, quite simply, bland.

If only some provide the fare,
Tell me, have you never thought
Some guests might just feel ill at ease,
The food and drink might just run short?

For if the feast is yours to spread,
The gifts are only yours to give,
You set the limits for your guests –
What they can be; how they can live;

Where then the space to twist and test,
The space in which we all can grow,
Held safe within a warm embrace,
With none above and none below?

And so, instead, a bring and share –
Like five thousand did before;
Let’s bless, give thanks, whatever comes
And have enough and so much more.

Daddy says ‘Come, My feast is spread!
From all directions heed My call
Lay your gifts and take your place
At My feast that’s spread and shared by all.’