Bread and Wine
I have been reading a book, recommended by my daughter, entitled, Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes. It is a beautiful, spiritual memoir of the author’s experience with food and family and friends and God.
She talks about her relationship with food – a love story in itself, challenged by sometimes too much and the body affects of that, and by the food allergies which members of her family have. She shares about deep loss and grief; about reunions; about friendships forged and maintained over time and distance; about carefully planned events, with formal invitations and fussy meals, that turned into impromptu responses to painful life emergencies. She talks about the dining club composed of other young couples early in their lives together, and the ways in which they came to know and love one another through late-into-the-night conversations around the table, as well as standing by one another with comfort food when loss and challenges arose. Her story is infused with the wisdom she has discovered through the food and friendships, distilled and clarified through her craft as a writer. Here are a few of her morsels:
“Food is a language of care, the thing we do when traditional language fails us, when we don’t know what to say, when there are no words to say.”
“I’m talking about feeding someone with honesty and intimacy and love, about making your home a place where people are fiercely protected, even if just for a few hours, from the crush and cruelty of the day.”
“The heart of hospitality is about creating space for someone to feel seen and heard and loved. It’s about declaring your table a safe zone, a place of warmth and nourishment.”
Thanksgiving is next week, and we will be together with all of our children, my sister, her husband and their kids. Our own family joys and sorrows, sensitivities and expectations, worries and dreams, desires and disappointments, can so easily get stirred up and magnified as we prepare for ‘the holiday meal’ – that has been planned for and prepared for with as many of our favorite dishes as possible. We’ll each find our seat – bringing with us all of the individual challenges that are a part of our unique humanness. And before we take the first mouthful, my husband will offer the toast he always offers at every holiday meal. He’ll raise his glass and say – ‘this meal, this gathering around the table, is my favorite part of Thanksgiving. Being together, eating good food, sharing time together, is the best gift.’ We all giggle a bit – he says this every time – and then we take a sip, sit, and begin to eat.
So as we gather on Thanksgiving, and for the holidays just around the corner – with friends, with family; with ones we love and ones we struggle even to like; I pray that we can take a moment to open to the love story that is happening right then and there. I pray that we can open to the possibility and presence of a space for those with us – and for ourselves – “to feel seen and heard and loved;” that we can declare our tables to be a “safe zone, a place of warmth and nourishment.”