Downeast Table of Plenty: The Magic of Helping

CHERRYFIELD – Bonnie Johnson asked Mission Downeast Campus Director Wendy Harrington if Bonnie could use the EdGE building in Cherryfield as a meeting place for Bonnie’s growing, informal support group. Wendy Harrington said yes. That was around year 2010, and Bonnie Johnson’s idea is one of our Downeast Campus’s signature events: The Downeast Table of Plenty, or DETOP, for short.

With Bonnie Johnson’s permission, here is Bonnie’s reflection on DETOP written on Tuesday, September 13, 2016, two days after the DETOP supper on Sunday, September 11, 2016. The photos, also from the September 11th DETOP are Bonnie’s too.

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Hi everyone,

What a festive atmosphere. The Downeast Table of Plenty (DETOP) was hopping last Sunday. The Women’s Health Resource Library (WHRL) in Milbridge, ME, a group new to DETOP, hosted the great supper. How thankful we are for the fantastic job they did. Each smiling, culinary creator brought sizable dishes to please EVERY palette. Every DETOP diner was greeted with a yummy serving of healthy fare for their bodies, and a huge dose of kindness for nurturing their souls.

Permit me a small, personal reflection on lovely thoughts from a  friend. Last Sunday I was struck with the paradoxical fashion in which human beings choose to “be with” one another. We remember in our hearts the tragedy of September 11th, 2001. We mourn the enormous loss of life, and the complete breakdown of respect, dignity, and love for all people. This will always remain an indelible hurt on our hearts.

At the same time, we see the enormous capacity for human compassion, and the “lifting up of another,” in  something as small as a  community gathering in a common meal. I can hear in my head and heart- our local adage: “DETOP is our Table of Bread.” It is, indeed a table of bread open for everyone, in every place and space of their life.

This is true at ALL places where basic necessities of life are shared- from food, to information, to pooled resources of time, and energy, and ultimately, Hope.

Downeast Table of Penty SignEach of us is given a daily choice as to what message we want to send in our actions. Last Sunday, as in every DETOP supper, I see everyone choosing the road of mutual dignity and respect. We have a beautiful community here in Downeast Maine, and  link our hands with the rest of the world choosing the same.

Thank you again to our new hosting group- the Women’s Health Resource Library! They Rock! And another special thank goes to our stellar musicians – Brian Stewart and Curtis Russet. They brought such great entertainment, that so many enjoyed.

Thank you to everyone who make these Sunday’s happen, and to every diner who has ever graced our doors. Would a meal such as DETOP exist on a very regular, unending basis, with even one of the these pieces missing from the puzzle?

From Pat, Jillian, Steve, Aaron, Nicki, Adam, Mark, who “pickup,” “set up, and “clean up” practically EVERY Sunday…

To Linda, our brave and successful coordinator and organizer personified…

To Wendy, and, Charlie, and the Seacoast Mission for space and administration…

To Jillian and Steve, Priscilla, Linda and Steve, Wendy and Bunny, Marty, Alice, Nancy and Adrian, the Cherryfield Congregational Church, St. Michaels Church and Claire Babcock, “Freaks and Geeks,” Jenny and Kent, The Mason’s, and…

ALL GROUPS and INDIVIDUALS who schedule themselves in the Never Ending rotation of meals…

To Joan, Betty, Linda, Sharon, Diane, and others who put diningware on the table, and help make coffee…

To each person/group offering a dish of food on any given occasion…

To every single person who lifts a chair, or table, or who helps put out the boxes of produce, and…

To the Bayside Market who offers it all…

Table of Plenty MusiciansTo the weekly musicians: from Steve, Curtis, George, Tom and Beth, Sepp and Shelia, Brian and Cole Creek, Randy, Michael, Shelia and the list goes on…

To the folks that move over to make space for another diner at their table…

To the folks who play with the children, and dogs, and those who hold babies so others can eat…

To the unbelievable summer work groups that come from away to help with housing repair and offer other help to the supper as well, and…

To EVERY SINGLE DINER WHO HAS EVER GRACED OUR DOORS.

All these components come together like magnets attracted to one another. They all form a huge and amazing portrait.

I know I have most unintentionally left names out. While you may not see your name listed, please know it is etched in our hearts, touched by the sheer magic of your willingness to help.

Peace Abundant
Bonnie Johnson