When you have had a good meal, a really good meal, you want to tell your friends about it. When you have tasted something so fine, you want to have it again. Recipes and stories are meant to be shared. Bread is meant to be baked and devoured. Virginia BWIM’s annual festival, Feast 2010, was rich in its ingredients: Word. Table. Image. Each of the flavors had time to mingle, and with the addition of each festival participant became tasty morsels for every pallet.

Among the ingredients highlighted in Feast 2010, each experienced dance as a heartfelt expression of faith and prayer, giving “voice” to our understanding of God in worship through physical expression. The Arts of the Every Day gallery enticed our minds as we witnessed a small portion of the wonderful work of our hands from quilting, photography, block printing, a table collage of the future church, to a table set with food and drinks to share, and other gorgeous works. The invitation to engage our hands and voices came through guided imagery and an experience of art as spiritual practice. Each song was carefully selected, adding to the words of each preacher, each story at table. The food, prepared by a true culinary artist, spoke to the mind, body, and spirit through the shared meal.

During the Festival was a movement from individual voices to a single, communal voice coming together in the Celtic-inspired service to share the words of institution in unison. The Celts embraced Christianity with parables, stories, saints, poetry, songs, visual symbols, and community. The ending elements of worship inspired by the Celts gathered all the ingredients together, honoring this shared Feast.

When the meal was over, the women went out into the world proclaiming good news:

“I heard three amazing sermons. Each was unique. Each was excellent.”

“The sense of community could be felt. I was so amazed by the Festival.”

“I loved the 2009 Festival, but I have to say that the Festival keeps getting better and better.”

“Walking into the space, seeing that we would worship at table, sitting at the table with fresh bread. We took a few minutes to dive in, but once we did, bread was shared by all.”

Each went her own way, called to share her voice in her community, with her children, with those she loves. We left restored, full. With time to digest, with the time and space to share, new tables will be set, and VBWIM Feast groups will spring up in spaces across the state this year: in kitchens, in gardens, at a local coffee shop, in the parish hall, in the home. We will continue to gather and feast on the shared story.

With full hearts, bellies, and spirits, we were called to use our voices to speak for the oppressed, the women and children and daughters of the world. We left with a call to pray, to speak, and to create for we are each called to create spaces of love, of light, and of hope for others.