"They followed a daily discipline of worship followed by meals at home, every meal a celebration, exuberant and joyful, and they praised God ..."
(Acts 2:46, The Message)
Food, glorious food. And, in many cases, beer. I DO believe they can unite us! I remember considering this sometime back when White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs described a meeting that he had with former President Obama, Henry Louis Gates, and James Crowley. He called it "a chance to talk and a chance to have a dialogue," adding, "I would not construe this as a formal discussion, this is about having a beer."
I'll drive back around to the last president's Biergarten bridges in a moment. Right now I'm thinking how much I would love to go to Texas just to grocery shop with my dearly departed Nana. This woman, as in the grandma contract, was obsessed with feeding people. My Nana made everyone's favourite pie at Thanksgiving and Christmas meal times. That sounds like a feat in itself, but consider that my Nana has 5 living children (I still miss #6), most of which have at least three grown kids of their own plus their own babies. Plus lots of her grandkids have babies! Yeah, you may be 2 years old, but if she found out what pie you liked, it would have been there. Maybe twice. The last time we had a major eating holiday at her place my cousin Ryan and I counted over 30-something pies.
But here's the thing: She didn't just like to cook; she liked US. She had an overwhelming love for her family that motivated her to stock her cupboards with sugar, flour, eggs, and every pie filling known to man. Oh, some write love letters, send cards, or express themselves in hugs and kisses. My Nana crammed pies down everyone she loved.
Upon a most recent reading of a very long short story called "Babette's Feast" by Isaak 'I-had-a-fahm-in-Ah-frica' Dineson, I remembered why it was so important for me to ask people over for meals and prepare something that would satisfy them. Babette, a widowed victim of the French Civil War, comes to Denmark to work for two religiously prudish sisters. Babette gives the sisters 14 years of devotion and servitude, helping them to aid the poor and elderly. She eventually wins 10,000 francs in the French lottery, and instead of getting the heck out of dodge, Babette decides she will spend ALL of her winnings by giving the town people a gift of one night of gluttonous eating and drinking! Woo hoo!
It can take everything out of a person to prepare a meal, and you can throw yourself into it when you love the people you are serving. Babette had a lot to give because a lot was given to her. I get that. Totally.
Jesus called his disciples over and said, “The truth is that this poor widow gave more to the collection than all the others put together. All the others gave what they’ll never miss; she gave extravagantly what she couldn’t afford—she gave her all.”
The last time I shopped with her, before her departure from us, I found Nana obsessed with finding the right things at the store. But mainly because it frustrated her that she couldn't SEE the right things and I had to yell the labels to her. She pushed the cart slooooowly down each aisle, making sure she didn't miss anything, mumbling the ingredients over and over because she had memorized her shopping list so she wouldn't have to write it down for me. It might have been enough to drive me crazy, but I was with my Nana, so I didn't really care.
We only needed pie ingredients. We were at that little IGA for two hours.
I know some people were genuinely concerned and wished she wouldn't cook because she might burn the kitchen down or do some damage, but the doctor had said that cleaning her own house and cooking was what is keeping her alive and her mind so good. The woman was 90-something for pity's sake. She could make all the dang pies she wanted to and many friends or family who knew how important it was to her were always willing to help her pack them in the car.
I love the memories of our family feasts at Nana's (though we never really took a cue from Babbette and spiked the punch for my family - bummer!). I experience my Nana every time I bite into a hot apple pie or smell yummy greasy hamburgers from a kitchen (oh drool!). I often came to that tiny table curled up in her holey quilt from the closet and nursing her homemade coke float. She gave me that quilt that last time I was with her. I can smell those hamburgers every time I curl up in it. My Nana has a lot to give because she felt like so much was given to her. I still get that. Totally.
Celebrate everything that you and your families have accomplished under the blessing of God, your God.
All that being said, I think our former President Obama's choice to have a Bud with Gates and Crowley was dead on in my humble opinion. It may not be current news, but the concept is still crystal clear. As Mr. Obama has said in different ways throughout his office, not every problem is going to be solved by government and not every problem should be solved by government.
So ... maybe my Nana didn't drink beer, but I'll bet if she thought a president was coming to her house, she would have found out his favourite pie, regardless of her personal politics. They just don't matter at her table.
You may be on a diet. You may not drink beer. But there are many ways to partake together. People should indulge in some way together more often. Not just family, but friends and new acquaintances ... bridges can be built over and around The Table. And may this happen in any house, around any table, with our shoes off.