Anyone for tea?
We were invited to Aras an Uchtaran some years ago. That is the name of the Irish Presidents’s formal home in Phoenix Park Dublin. We were both nervous and elated.
We were put at a table beside a couple who, like us, had moved with their work recently. We shared the problems for our children with such a move and some of the strategies we adopted to make the loss of one home feel more like the gain of moving to a new home.
When the meal was over we thanked our dinner companions, the President and her husband, for their conversation and company, and made our way home.
It is always nice to receive an invitation to a meal. not that you should feel obliged to go, just nice to be asked.
I find one to one conversations over a snack or a meal to be the most rewarding, though often a larger group can turn out to be surprisingly entertaining. But there are a number of dangers to watch our for when we are invited out.
There is the one-up-manship that happens when tit-for-tat invitations involve more and more expensive venues.
There is the risk that someone’s name gets left off the list because they have become persona-non-grata. May God forbid that we should make someone unwelcome, or, worse still, become that unwelcome guest!
But the writer of Proverbs gives a very stark warning for when we are invited to eat with a ruler.
When you sit to dine with a ruler, note well what is before you, 2 and put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony. 3 Do not crave his delicacies, for that food is deceptive.
I reckon the political classes probably crave being present at the seat of power. It may involve them spending a lot of time with the leader of their nation or party. But there is danger lurking. The risk of showing yourself up as a glutton is one aspect. But also the craving can be make you deceive yourself, as you might accept from your host, what previously you would have considered unacceptable!
When a politician resigns from a prominent position publicly, I sometimes suspect that they have grown wise to how far along the road of deception they have come, and they want to be honest again.
Craving for acceptance by the party or the leader can leave even an honourable member drowning. Self deception has a limited shelf life.