As I've been away, I've noticed how life hasn't gotten easier. There haven't been these grandiose enlightenments happening here. Rather, there is still me stretched four ways amongst my family and feeling quite empty on most afternoons.
I painted a spot on my kitchen cabinet with chalkboard paint. The first words I wrote were Isaiah 25:6,
On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine--the best of meats and the finest of wines.
It is a reminder that life here never pretended to get easier. Life is not going up on the mountainside to be given a revelation, in order to come down into the valley with a spiritual high. Because the highs don't last and we're left with cleaning up from the post party blues.
But, there is something about being given a promise isn't there?
It's why I come back to the table.
I don't think it's easy to come back day in and day out, to congregate and eat with family or friends. Often times it's a heckofalotta work, and it doesn't always feel like good pay out.
Still, there is the time for feasting amidst the day to day. Although I find solace in the simple meal of comfort and home. No pretensions or added touches. Those 'it is what it is' meal and everyone drinks up home in each sip.
I still long for the feast.
It's the part of my soul that isn't fully realized in this here, but not yet. And it's why Ben and I joined with wonderful, dear friends on a sunny, cool summer evening in August overlooking the bay to sit and feast.
The Watermelon-Strawberry Citrus Sangria was filled to the brim. Ginger Soda (used coconut sugar) dark brown kicked you just so, making you not forget what sweet spiciness resembled. Creamy Gazpacho met us at the table. Friends shared some of their favorite appetizers from Gouda to salty meats to Paleo seedy bread.
As old friends were being reunited and new friends being made, I would go from making final adjustments to the meal to conversing with friends. Looking out at these people, my people, who have touched a part of my soul is just what I need to be reminded of the aged meats and best wines.
Still, we can try to create the most perfect experience with food, conversation, setting and life hits you over the head, reminding you that Jesus is ever needed. As I was walking past my phone plugged into the IPhone dock singing The Civil Wars new album a message appeared. My older brother's name stating, "Dad is in pretty bad shape in the hospital."
I called my brother finding out some more news, not good at all. Then I would wait to hear back.
I returned to the kitchen to collect my thoughts, picked up a platter and walked out to the appetizer table half-smiling, wondering how I should proceed. How does one carry them self amongst the rise of a storm?
I quickly told Ben, cried, and prayed for my dad. I told a couple friends quietly. Then, Ben asked if we should share it with our friends and pray for my dad.
Gathering around the table isn't always Pinterest worthy. I cannot emphasize enough how messy it is. Kids spill and make more work. Meals taste days old and conversation has been dry like a roast cooked all day. Your dinner guests come and the table still hasn't been set, and it's nothing you envisioned to welcome them. Your father gets sick less than an hour into your big celebration and you feel sick to your stomach.
This, this right here is what coming to the table might mean. But you know what, a perfect table rarely tells a story of redemption and vulnerability.
What did my friends find when they came on that Sunday evening? They found their friend who loves them faithfully & loyally in need of them. And they as my guests, served me by helping take part by setting the table, lighting the candles, stirring the ginger soda and dishing up the raw walnut tacos.
Coming to the table is sharing it.
Sharing the glory, the muck, and the beauty of it all. It's letting others take part in the preparation. It's your husband tearing up as your friends are seated to announce horrible news about your father, asking if they would love us by praying for him.
That they did.
As the sun began to set and hit it's crescendo, me feeling like I didn't do a good job as a hostess found quite the contrary. Friends telling me this evening was an "honor to be apart of," "a highlight of their summer," "magical and epic," blew me to grace.
Could it be that when we invite others to share the table with us in the hard parts, they feel more human, know more hope in the here but not yet?
That sun setting spoke of the curtains being drawn back and hope still remaining. It spoke to the deep of the deep in me that I cannot live pretending I have it together, or in the trying to impress anyone. It sang a redeeming song, one where we all get to gather, share and pass the meal to new & old friends in the redeeming of the table.