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What do Spring Rolls and Playdough have in common?

I wonder how you eat spring rolls? I have always loved spring rolls, but I had never tasted spring rolls like in Hanoi, Vietnam, until this year. I think I have been spoiled for life now. They are quite a delicacy in Hanoi and nothing compares to them anywhere. I also learned a lot about how they eat them. That was very inspiring.

In Vietnam culture, the spring roll is something that is shared with the community, it is something they do together, using the same dips for everyone. Where in Australia, we have a rule of NO double dipping, in Vietnam, it is an essential part of eating them to share the same dips and to dip together.

The spring rolls “dips” are also very symbolic of the experience of doing it together. The dip is a mixture of lemon (sour) , garlic ( smelly) , capsicum, chilli (hot) , Pepper (spicy), fish sauce (sugar) , water that joins it all together.

The ingredients of the dips represent all types of tastes and combinations, coming together and being blended to make something special. This is a symbol of community. There are all kinds of people who should make up community and it is the variety that makes it TRUE community. What a beautiful example of what community should look like. We all get to be together at the banquet sharing it together. It reminds me of the great banquet Jesus talked about where all were invited and welcomed to share together. The sad thing is that, just as in the parable, there were many who wouldn't come. So it is with our culture, which has become so obsessed with having our own dips and making sure that we are separate so as to not share germs, and allowing everyone to have control of their own combinations and eat what they want to eat and not have to share.

I often do this excursive with all ages, where I give them a piece of play dough and everyone has a different colour. I begin by asking them to design something with their play dough and create something that represents them. Many enjoy this process but the next step is hard for them. Even though this is only a piece of play dough, it is amazing how attached they get. I ask them to share their creation with other people in the room and as they do they must share a piece of play dough, which means they give a piece away and gain a piece. As they continue to swap with people over and over again, they end up with different colours in their hands.

It always amazes me how the majority of people keep all the colours separate even when I am constantly asking them to massage the colours together as they go. When they sit down I ask them again to massage the colours all together in order to make a new colour. Many just can’t do it. They have either been conditioned to NOT mix the colours or they don't like the fact that their creations has been destroyed and it is no longer the same as when they started.

Again this practical exercise reminds us that to be TRUE community means that in the sharing process, what we end up is not the same as what we started with. Some people love this, but more than often our “isolated”, “controlling”, “self-focused”, “comfortable” culture means that we really struggle with this exercise. Sounds harsh I know, but there is no other explanation for this behaviour. If this is so hard in an exercise with play dough, imagine the sacrifice it takes for people to live in TRUE community. Like the spring roll experience, life is meant to be shared and done together. And through the combining and sharing we are all transformed to become something different..

How about you ... are you okay to SHARE your sauce dips and double dip your spring rolls? Can you MIX your play dough colours ... or does the thought of that make you cringe?

The bigger question is ... is life in your faith community truly shared and mixed together, and if not what are you missing out on?

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