Sat at the table, Brbr’s thoughts on Dvd’s situation were succeeded by an image of Grhm, the fraternum’s most recently acquired member, a handsome blond 18-year old young man. She looked up to the others, who had been at the table with her for some time, heads bowed, and closed her eyes to find the image once more of Grhm. She saw him standing, stark and alone. Flowing and wrapping up, and over and around him, were silk-like veils of yellow, orange and red and gentle, whispered voices. Brbr and the others became aware of his entering the room and opened their eyes. “I’m sorry I’m late” said Grhm in an apparently flat, detached tone.
“Please take your seat, Grhm” replied Ssn, pausing.
“Now let us prepare to eat”, she added while Aln began to serve the soup into each bowl and Brbr offered a piece of bread and vegetables from the baskets. Grhm hesitated then nudged his way onto his seat, joining the others in a silence, which was broken a minute or so later by Ssn’s announcement
“Let us eat”. The table remained subdued, the only sounds that could be heard above the light clunk of the spoons in the bowls were the soft sips and slurps of the group enjoying their meal. With a flippant look, Grhm interrupted the calmness.
“Well? Aren’t you going to tell me off again for being late, Susan?” Ssn looked up from her meal, lingered on her thoughts for a brief moment, and in a low but firm voice replied:
“Grhm, we have spoken before of the importance of eating and the importance of becoming aware, together, of the need for a rhythm of eating during the day” as he looked on at her, his face half grinning, half serious. Then, for a second time, she gathered her thoughts and added
“But, as you also know Grhm, there is something beyond the importance of eating at the table – do you recognise what that is?” Grhm suddenly gave a look of remorse, at one point a flash of panic fleeing across his face, while Ssn kept her supportive gaze on him.
“Er, er, the need to be at peace, at peace with each other, at the table, Ssn”, he mumbled and returned to his meal. Ssn blinked her eyes slowly acknowledging his courage. So she decided to conclude the matter with a comment that provoked flinches of satisfaction, as well as anticipation within the group:
“You are right, Grhm. Now rest your voice till storytelling this evening, tonight we shall all be able to share stories from the past, stories from the present and stories from the future”.
The meal continued, with only an occasional comment from one or the other. Smn expressed his boyish surprise over the unexpected sweetness of the elder berries that followed the soup and vegetables “Wow, they’re so good” he exclaimed. Ptr remarked on the fullness of flavour of the apples this autumn, adding “I haven’t tasted such good apples since I was a lad”.
Rgr wanted to know if there would be cheese to eat tomorrow, “I can’t stop dreaming about it”, he declared. Meanwhile, Dvd’s place at the table, as well as the twelfth place set for the visitor, remained unused. At the end of the meal, the brief pause, before the table was cleared, closed with the words: “May Dvd return safely to our fold. May our table always bear food for our community and for the uninvited guest who is yet to come”.
As the members of the group either turned to their tasks of tidying away, or returned to their rooms for digestion and reflection, all were looking forward to that evening’s storytelling, in the hope that together they could all help Grhm find the stillness within himself that he needed, if he was to attain full integration into the community.