There are two images that come to mind when I think
What I remember about the ‘smarter than the
av-er-age bear’ character were his silly antics in
the fictional Jellystone Park. If you remember, Yogi
speaks in rhyme and uses a plethora of puns. My
guess is that if you aren’t familiar with the show,
then at one point or another you’ve heard one of his
famous catchphrases: “Hey there, Boo!” Or perhaps
you have heard someone refer to a ‘picnic basket’ in
the manner Yogi did: “pic-a-nic baskets.’
Yogi was always up to something and it was usually
attempting to steal the picnic baskets of campers.
This, of course, always made me want to go on a
picnic, while at the same time made me quite
terrified that at some point a tie-donning bear (why
in the world is he wearing a tie anyway? Does he not
know he has no shirt or pants on?) would jump out
from behind the tree and steal my food!
My only saving grace is that we never had a wicker
picnic basket. Just Tupperware, which I was
confident Yogi wouldn’t be able to figure out.
Eventually this silly fear went away. Thank
goodness, because some of my favorite memories are
centered on a plastic table cloth, paper plates, and
blue Solo cups covering a picnic table in a park
with family surrounding me.
It was a practice of my extended family to gather
for a picnic as often as we could during the summer,
especially for those special occasions such as
Memorial Day, Father’s Day, and the Fourth of July.
I loved these days. Not only because of the food we
had, but because it was a celebration, a different
way of being with each other. Us grandkids would
bring our ball gloves and play catch or hotbox until
our faces were beat red and a sweat halo hovered at
the base of our ball caps. Then, when it was time to
eat, my grandpa would offer up the prayer, followed
by a ‘speech’ letting everyone know how proud he was
Then we would dig in.
Each picnic was practically the same. The food and
the conversations were as predictable as the life
lesson presented at the end of each Yogi Bear
Therein lies the paradox of picnics. In the
predictability of a picnic lies the promise of
possibility when God's people gather to share life,
tell stories, and break bread. Picnics provide the
needed space for the Spirit to bind our hearts, as
well as our appetites, to the very core of Jesus,
who, when he was at supper with his closest friends,
offered them peace, God's own peace.
What has become clear to me, friends, over the years
is that the most sacred moments, the ones I return
to for comfort the way I do with the mac and cheese,
take place around the table with family, friends,
and even strangers.
Ultimately, for me, picnics are not about the
cuisine, rather they are about community. It is
about what happens when we come together, slow down,
open our picnic baskets, look into one another’s
faces, and listen to one another’s stories.
[Adam Quine, Pastor First Presbyterian Church in