On gathering around the table.
I’m taking a break from food today to share a little story about gathering around the table. I have had these thoughts circling my head for nearly a year and finally wrote them down. I debated on whether to share or not, but Paul encouraged me to publish so here goes.
Do you know the feeling when you read an article or book or watch a video that so strongly speaks to your heart that you just can’t help but put the feelings into action?
She wrote the book, which is a collection of love stories about food, people, and people gathering around food and how lives intertwine and how we connect to each other, and to God, through the nourishment we need – nourishment via food and via connection with others. I immediately connected with her because I find deep value in connecting with people around the table.
If you have ever noticed before, the tagline of my blog is “Expressing my love for food, for people, for life.” I just quickly typed that sentence out when I started my blog not really even thinking about it but there is so much truth in it….loving people and life through the food we eat (literal and figurative food) is so meaningful to me and it’s now – over three years later – that I’m actually learning how that should play out in my life.
I love to feed people. Alongside my favorite foods, I also crave connection, conversation, eye contact, and laughter with people. I love the idea that God can work through me through food I create.
But something that seems so easy can be so difficult, at least for me. I know the feeling I get when, after a night when our house has been full of people and full of laughter and great food, we close the door, and turn to each other and say “that was a great night.” But for some reason, actually getting to the point of stepping out of my comfort zone to actually invite people over is difficult for me.
I get extremely caught up in being the perfect hostess. Will my house be clean enough? Will the food taste good? What if someone doesn’t like Mexican food? What if they feel like they have to show up out of obligation? What if I don’t have enough food? What if I don’t have time to pull weeds? What if I forget to buy toilet paper?
Really, I’m that neurotic. It’s so stupid. Really, really, stupid, that I would possibly consider missing out on the opportunity to invite people in to our home because I’m afraid someone will be offended by my weed-ridden yard. Seriously. Someone (read: me) needs a gut check. Because all of those I just listed, all of those went through my mind late last week AFTER I had invited eight people to our house on Sunday for dinner.
After everyone had gone home that night, though, my heart was so full. And all I kept thinking to myself was how easily I could have missed that opportunity. How easy it would have been for me to ignore the desire to invite people over. How easy it would have been to skip cleaning the house, to skip the grocery shopping, the cooking and sit on the couch and watch Netflix instead.
I would have missed out on countless conversations and some great laughter. In a short four-hour time period, eight adults and one toddler gathered in our kitchen, shared some margaritas – the adults, not the toddler – some enchiladas, salsa, and fixins’ and we talked about work, about church, about life, about babies – those existent and non-existent – food, travel, and music. In only four hours!
I think that if I could get over myself more often, I would find that people don’t really care if I get around to dusting every square inch of my house, or if the deck got cleaned off or not. I think they care for us to open our homes, open our lives and open our hearts to them, to meet them wherever they are – tired, energized, sad, happy, and any emotion in-between because, let’s face it, sharing a meal around a table-full of people will fill your heart, every time, over and over again.
Well, there it is. I’m resolving to open up our table more often to connect with people in a meaningful way, in hopes to share some delicious food – and wonderful life moments – along the way. Thank you, Shauna for the beautiful inspiration.
How do you feel about inviting people in or about hosting? Do you get caught up in the preparation? Do you get nervous? How do you overcome it?