Posts Tagged ‘abundant life’

Let us break bread together

Even as a little girl, I sensed that something special takes place when people share a meal, and given my Italian and Southern Scotch-Irish heritage, our family enjoyed some amazing meals when we gathered for reunions, all of it foreign to our bland Midwest palates: spinach-stuffed ravioli and polenta on the Italian side – crab, collards and biscuits at Mom Minnie's. No wonder I was a pudgy little kid.

Those meals not only filled my tummy, they satisfied my soul with a deep sense of belonging. Imagine sitting around the table, with people speaking Italian, or listening to my larger-than life uncles tell their crazy stories of life on a shrimp boat! Laughter was the main ingredient of those hours-long meals and I remember feeling like I was part of a larger story.

It turns out I was on to something; as I've studied the ancient tradition of hospitality, I've learned something special does indeed take place when we gather together to eat. In Christian circles, we often call taking the Lord's Supper 'breaking bread.' Jesus gave his life, (became broken bread) for us so that we might have life.

Breaking bread can also refer to the common meal. Something equally mystical happens when we gather together to break bread - strangers become companions, a word whose literal meaning is "the one with whom bread is broken."  

Interestingly, the Scottish word for companion is "marrow" – the essence, the best part. It can be a simple sharing of rustic bread and rough red wine, or an extravagant seven-course feast, but the best part, the essence, is the experience of companionship.

THE LAST COURSE: The part about the marrow reminds me of a teacher friend of mine, who as the end of her summer vacation approaches, likes to say that she is "sucking the marrow out of each remaining day." She knows how to savor the riches of her life.

So the next time you gather around the table, do it with an attitude of expectancy. Slow down; take time to truly appreciate your 'daily bread' and be thankful for the very best part….each other.

HIGHLIGHTS FROM AN ITALIAN FEAST:

Roasted Italian sausages and grapes, bathed in olive oil and rosemary, accompanied by polenta and white beans with sage. The meal was molto bene, and so was the fellowship!

If You’re Hungry…..Pull Up a Chair

What's at the top of your goal list?

 Picture it: the thing that's so big and near to your heart that you’ve mentally put it in the category of, "I don't even know where to begin," "maybe someday," or worse, "yeah, right!" Can you even remember when you first dared to put it down on paper? You have done that, haven’t you?

"He who watches the wind will not sow and he who looks at the clouds will not reap."

I skipped over that Bible verse for years, because, well, I’m not a farmer. But in January 2009, I came across it in another translation and it rocked me to my core:

“If you wait for perfect conditions,

you will never get anything done.”

 Right before it fell on my head!

One project had been on my waiting list forever: remodeling my kitchen/dining room to facilitate my dream of holding communal dinners. The conditions were far from perfect, but I decided to give myself permission to do it imperfectly. It didn’t hurt that my best friend, knowing my propensity towards procrastination, showed up one afternoon with a sledgehammer.             

The other long-standing item on my "to do" list was this blog; a front-burner project that I’ve allowed to boil away on the back of the stove while I lay awake at night with an acute case of insomnia. If the bags under my eyes get any bigger, the airlines are going to start charging me for extra luggage. I’d blame it on the caffeine, but I know it’s just my brain’s way of saying, “get this stuff out of your head and onto the page!”

The subject of The Shared Table? E.M. Forester said, “How do I know what I think until I see what I say?” I’m hoping this will be a two-way conversation, so who knows where we’ll end up, but I do have a focus in mind. A line in Frances Mayes’ book, In Tuscany, resonates with me: “The word ‘focus’ comes from the Latin for fireplace. In Italian, it’s “focolare” – the center of the home where we cook and eat and talk, all of which gives focus, a clarity to life.”

There's a transformation that occurs when we stop waiting for “perfect conditions” and begin to share our lives. Whether we’re sitting around the kitchen table, a conference table, or a folding table at the soup kitchen – when “two or three are gathered in His name,” it becomes a communion table, and that’s when we experience the abundant life, or as I like to call it, ‘la vita abbondante.’

I hope you’ll think of The Shared Table as just that: a place where we can sit down and have a conversation about what it means to live connected. If you’re hungry for that, pull up a chair. The door’s always open.