An Exploration of Sacred Parenting and Education

Gathering by Jeremy HT

In Uncategorized on March 22, 2013 at 11:59 am


A note in response to the inspiring recent posts about gathering, collectedness and mindfulness:

The English word ‘gather’ comes from Germanic gath– (‘bring together, unite’),  a word which also produced English ‘good’. It also produced German gatte, ‘husband, spouse’, originally ‘companion’.

This excavation of underlying meanings brings to light some revealing connections. To gather to eat is an act of togetherness on a physical level, especially when the table is a round one, in which case it becomes a halka, a circle, a symbol of unity and equality. I generally do not enjoy sitting at long tables where the only people one can comfortably converse with are to the left or the right or opposite, and where special eminence may be given to the one sitting at the ‘head’ of the table. A round table can be a better and more natural gathering of  ‘hearts’, in the same way as a yurt can be a better meeting place than a rectangular hall.

Gathering is not only the act of bringing people together, often for a meal, but also an act of collecting oneself, or mindfulness. The word ‘collect’ is itself derived from a Latin word meaning ‘gather together’ (com + legere), but it’s worth noting that there is a specialized use of the word ‘collect’ as a noun meaning  ‘short prayer’, referring to a prayer offered in an assembly or congregation (i.e. where ‘more than two or three are gathered together in His name’). In prayer or dhikr, as for a communal meal, one not only physically assembles with others, but also collects oneself, becoming centred in the heart. This entails stepping outside time, for if we are distracted by the flow of time (increasingly rapid and urgent in these peculiar, fragmented times) we cannot collect ourselves to a point of unity. This is one of the testing challenges of our times, for I am sure we have all experienced that sense of time hurtling onward as we try to be mindful during the prayer (or indeed at any other time) and are tempted to rush or skip things out.  Partaking of soul food at a soulful table is a good symbol of the gentle passing of time which can occur in the company of Friends. One can find oneself amazed at how many hours have passed seamlessly at such a gathering as food is sanctified by the taste of  conversation which remembers the Divine.

But, of course, more nourishing than any food is the ‘re-collection’ which occurs in the remembrance of God, and in the realization that we will all be gathered to Him as our point of origin and return.

  1. Greetings,

    Thank you for this very nice post. There is indeed much to gathering and recollecting.

    All good wishes,


  2. What is the meaning of the name Tazeen?

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