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Breakfast Days

Beginning and Belonging in the Morning

February 2, 2022 by

I have always been a believer in breakfast. When I was a kid, my favorite breakfast was coffee cake. To be precise, my favorite breakfast was the middle of the coffee cake, the part with lots of streusel. Coffee cake edges are always a bit dry, chewy, and bare. I remember once an elderly member of our community died and my dad was telling my siblings and me about him. I was about eight, and I suddenly had a wonderful thought, which I immediately voiced – “Dad, guess what? In heaven there will be coffee cakes with no edges.”

Every time I have coffee cake now I remember that. I eat breakfast with a different family in Fox Hill almost every day except Tuesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays, when I eat breakfast with my host family. They would happily provide breakfast for me any day of the week, but I choose to have “breakfast days” with other families in order to get to know them better. Everyone in the Bruderhof is like my brother or sister – I’ve got to take every chance I can to talk with other members and understand who they are. What better time than 6:30 in the morning to understand who someone really is?

Bruderhof family at breakfastPhoto credit: Mark McCarty

Most singles on Bruderhof communities go to different families for breakfast, though the practice is entirely optional. We singles don’t go to any family’s breakfast unless we’ve been invited, but most families extend an invitation rather than leave a single person lonely. If I didn’t show up to anyone’s breakfast at all, my host family would certainly ask if I were okay. One of the purposes of community is caring for each other.

All the breakfasts I attend are stimulating and joy-filled – to me anyway! Even if the people whose house I enter would rather have stayed in bed and not gotten up to make me coffee and toast, they never let on. Instead they smile brightly and welcome me in as though I’m the best thing that will happen to them all day. Then we proceed to have a discussion, which I gradually become more aware of as I finish my cup of coffee.

Certainly many people, including people on the Bruderhof, struggle with mornings and with the existence of breakfast as a social convention. I sometimes don’t want to get out of bed myself. The flesh is weak, and so is the spirit some days. But I consider going to breakfast an important ideal to aspire to, both for my sake and my host’s.

Hebrews 13:2 says “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.” I do not consider myself an angel, but my breakfast days could be a chance for families at Fox Hill to practice hospitality. There’s me, without a family and all alone, walking into their house at a vulnerable time of day when they’re not quite feeling at the top of their game. I am completely not related to them, not in any way part of their family, and maybe not even their best friend. So they now have a chance to really show love to me, a stranger.

The benefits for me of going to different families include getting breakfast (especially coffee) and learning more about my brothers and sisters at Fox Hill. Some of the people whose breakfast I go to once a week are almost impossible to meet up with otherwise. We have worship meetings and communal meals every day, but in a crowd of two hundred people, it’s hard to find time for everyone I want to connect with while we’re at the gathering. But it’s okay if I didn’t manage to say hello to someone at lunch if I’ve already had breakfast with them.

I’m a little less childlike now, but I’m still a believer. So I will keep getting out of bed every morning, knowing there is coffee and maybe cake waiting for me somewhere, at some table, until that glorious morning when God’s kingdom comes and the whole world is invited to the feast – where we’ll eat coffee cakes with no edges.

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About the author

Esther Keiderling

Esther Keiderling

Esther Keiderling lives and works at the Fox Hill Bruderhof.

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