For many of us summer is a time for relaxation and recreation. In a draft Swedenborg left unpublished we find a list of the “diversions of charity”—some of the things we might do on vacation to recreate our minds:
- social intercourse, with its discussions about various matters
- walks to see beautiful buildings, gardens, woods, people and animals
- stage plays of various kinds
- music and singing
- clean jokes
- banquets, feasts, and meals, with the cheerfulness attending them
- indoor games played with dice, balls, or cards
- dancing at weddings and festive gatherings
- manual work exercising the body and diverting the mind from its regular activities
- reading books on history and philosophy
- news in newspapers (Doctrine of Charity 189)
In the published version, most things are omitted from this list and the focus is on the kind of social lunches and suppers that are called “feasts of charity.”
Dinners and suppers are given everywhere for various purposes. They are given by many for their friends and relations, for the promotion of joviality, with a view to bestowing bribes or receiving remuneration, or as inducements to join certain parties. … But dinners and suppers of charity are given only by those who are in mutual love grounded in a similar faith. This is why dinners and suppers were institutions among the Christians of the primitive Church. They were called by them feasts, and were held that they might meet together in cordial joy and friendly union… as these were feasts of charity their conversation, no matter on what subject, was infused with the joy and gladness of charity.
The spiritual sphere which prevailed on these occasions was one of love to the Lord and love towards the neighbor. This cheered their mind, softened the tone of their speech, and spread among them a general feeling of cordiality. (True Christian Religion 433)
I don’t think that the focus on eating together here means that all the other kinds of recreation aren’t also useful. Yet there is something powerful in gathering to eat together in a sphere of love for the Lord and for each other that restores and recreates our minds in a deep and lasting way. I pray that your recreation this summer can include some of this kind of renewal.