I love alliterations, and this week accords me a little literary pleasure. Last week we celebrated the beginning of the Month of May, a Month when we intentionally focus on overseas Missions. Last week we celebrated May 4th which is otherwise known as: ‘May the force be with you’ from Star Wars. On the 8th of May we celebrated Mate Day or May Eight and this Sunday is Mother’s Day. Forgive My indulgence – My Mind has raced into a Marvellous space. Mmm. Okay, enough!
When we were in South America on holidays, in Argentina and Uruguay in particular, we were stunned at the number of people, young and old, carrying thermos bags. It was extremely common and we wondered what they were carrying? We found out. The bags contained a thermos of hot water and a special cup with a metallic drinking straw and a filter attached into which people would put a herbal type tea made of dried yerba ‘mate’. The cup and the drink is known commonly as Mate! Pronounced martay.
It was clearly a cultural thing, but it seemed to be such a wonderful mechanism of community. As far as we could see, people would sit at work, or in parks, and pour the water from their thermos into the cup and drink this infusion of liquid soaked and filtered from these leaves. And they would share the cup among those gathered around them.
The taste didn’t attract me greatly, and as Margaret is addicted to caffeine it didn’t lure her either, but it seemed such an amazing cultural practice. A celebration of ‘mateship’, of community, people gathered together talking, laughing and drinking a ‘mate’. I don’t think there is anything religious in the drinking of the ‘mate’ and it certainly is not anchored around a remembrance of a story like the Passover or our Eucharist – a story of forgiveness, peace and freedom – but there is something calming about it all, restorative even. I could well picture the risen Jesus sitting on the shore of the Galilee chatting with the fishermen and disciples around a fire, grilling their fish, and sipping a ‘mate’ together and Jesus uttering words that they felt in his company: peace be with you.
I love community celebrations: opportunities just to gather with friends and family and relax. The celebration and practice of sipping a ‘mate’ is not our culture. We do have a notion of a BBQ, or a picnic, perhaps even going out for coffee or a meal. These, for us, are all really important moments of celebrating, relaxing, being with family and friends. And maybe, on this Mother’s Day, as you gather with your mother, or as you think of her or other nurturers, there can be a moment to celebrate them and acknowledge that perhaps the essence of healthy living is framed in all the positive and supportive relationships we have within the family and even outside of it. And that, whatever happens around the gathering, whether sipping a ‘mate’ or drinking a coffee or even a wine, what is important is the being with and the fostering of ways to celebrate the important people in our lives and enjoying their company.