As you know I’ve been reading Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist, loosely following along with the Bloom (in)courage book club. I finished the book before we left for vacation, but I am still inspired by it. Our vacation was very much a “foodie” vacation, and every time we sat down for a great meal, I was reminded of the immense value in sharing a meal with the people you care about.
We had lots of really wonderful meals at lots of fantastic restaurants on our trip, but the one of my favorites was with Chris and my brother Joel in Portland. We had drinks with friends at the Kennedy School, charcuterie and watermelon salad at Noble Rot, and the most amazing, delicious dinner at Ox. We seemed to eat and eat and eat. The meal was unforgettable, and the conversation was nourishment to our worn out spirits.
Meals shared together nourish our souls as much as or more than the food nourishes our bodies. Sitting at the table sets the stage for deeper conversation, meaningful interaction, and memories made no other way. Our times shared at the table build strength and endurance into our relationships that help us weather through the tough days. Sometimes, they are a shelter in the storm.
“The heart of hospitality is creating space for these moments, protecting that fragile bubble of vulnerability and truth and love.”
A shared meal is a tried and true method for creating a common ground and connecting with one another. The simple acts of filling plates, pouring drinks, and passing dishes of food create opportunities to bridge the gap of our differences.
On a deeply spiritual level, the simple act of sharing a meal is so much more. Shauna’s attention to this in Bread and Wine is one of the reasons I love the book so much.
“Food matters because it’s one of the things that forces us to live in this world—this tactile, physical, messy, and beautiful world — no matter how hard we try to escape into our minds and our ideals. Food is a reminder of our humanity, our fragility, our createdness. “
“My friend Shane says the genius of Communion, of bread and wine, is that bread is the food of the poor and wine the drink of the privileged, and that every time we see those two together, we are reminded of what we share instead of what divides us.”
“If we only practice remembrance every time we take Communion at church, we miss three opportunities a day to remember. What a travesty! Eugene Peterson says that “to eyes that see, every bush is a burning bush.” Yes, that, exactly. To those of us who believe that all of life is sacred, every crumb of bread and sip of wine is a Eucharist, a remembrance, a call to awareness of holiness right where we are.
Holiness abounds, should we choose to look for it. The whisper and drumbeat of God’s Spirit are all around us, should we choose to listen for them. The building blocks of the most common meal —the bread and the wine—are reminders to us: “He’s here! God is here, and he’s good.” Every time we eat, every time we gather, every time the table is filled: He’s here. He’s here, and he is good.”
To all of those things, my hearts says emphatically, “Yes.” This is why we cook at home. This is why I’m determining in my heart to throw open the doors to my home and invite people in. And those quotes are just a taste. This isn’t a book review, but if I haven’t convinced you yet to pick up Bread and Wine, I hope those quotes were enough to push you over. It’s the best thing I’ve read in a very, very long time.
Do you regularly entertain guests in your home? Do you cook most nights of the week, or eat out? I tend to think the time spent around the table is more important than where that table is, but there is something decidedly more soul-satisfying about dinner in someone’s home than at a restaurant. What is one of your most memorable meals?