I heard a speech where a potluck was described as a symbol of trust. His premise: We take potlucks at face value, believing that what is there is good and untainted (by heat, mishandling or ill intentions). We believe that to be true, even though life is not always like that.
Potlucks also represent a metaphor for the life choices we make:
Do you take whatever looks good, and think that everyone else can too?
Do you decide about each thing as you come to it without a strategy or plan?
Do you think you can throw away what you don’t like and take more of what you do?
Do you keep your options open and don’t commit until you see the whole spread?
Do you “cheat” a little or make disciplined choices?
Do you take the last piece or leave it in consideration of others?
I have not thought of potlucks the same since I heard this talk. Life is much more like a potluck than the more common smorgasbord metaphor. Potlucks are irregular. They feature specialties as well as experiments. They put combinations together that would never be served at the same meal otherwise. They allow us to try things, reject them or go back for more. It is not all laid out for us; you need to work at it and contribute.
Think of your life as a potluck. You may not know what you are eating, but you just may love it anyway.
“Friendly Enemies: American Culture, Political Correctness, and Catholic Social Teaching” lecture by Dr. Stan Nussbaum, November 13, 2014