Don't tell me what you ate.
I'm a creature of habit, as we all tend to be. I like my baths each night and an espresso, with a dash of cream, each morning. So naturally, when a new season of Anthony Bordain ‘Parts Unknown' comes on, I watch it. It's habit. But it's a lovely one that always leaves me pondering contently.
While in the Greek Islands on one of these episodes, a Greek woman made a statement that spoke so loudly to me, she may as well have been standing my bedroom, shouting them into my sleepy, but intrigued, face.
When pondering the cultural norms of Greece and it's people, the supper crowd in the episode insisted that Greeks have open doors – all are welcome at their supper table. It's a culture of community's gathering, family interacting, and strangers having a place to dine.
She summed it up well.
Don't tell me what you ate. Tell me who you ate it with.
Had she had a mic, I'm assuming she would've dropped it at this point before exiting stage left. In the age of our self-absorption, the art of hospitality is blossoming… in our home and thousands of others around the world.
It wasn't but a few days before hearing these words that I listened to a podcast by Rosario Butterfield – a Christian with a remarkable conversion story – who is committed to opening her home for hospitality every night.
Every NIGHT, y'all.
I won't repeat the podcast here, because they simply covered more information than I can hope to in my words, but the power of this idea has sat with me like a rock these past few weeks.
We open our home often, quite often, for hospitality – though it's much more of an open door and less of a revolving door. It would be beyond my reach to think of the last time we dined with a stranger – or even folks we were unfamiliar with – or *gasp* people outside ‘our circle'.
(Not to say that hospitality must be extended to strangers… but rather, I'm simply presenting this as an idea for encouraging extended fellowship).
The food that we raise here on our farm is a product that we take seriously. We raise it, plant it, harvest it, and prepare it with the care and respect we believe it deserves. Much of our lives are devoted to this lifestyle that we are drawn to and love dearly.
At the end of the day, if we were to sit down with a perfect meal (you know the type I'm talking about) and there was no one else around the supper table… well, that'd be pretty lonely, wouldn't it.
Sure, it'd be quiet. And Lord… LORD do I long for the quiet some moments. But the reality is I'm not called to be quiet or calm or comfortable or inspired or anything else I LOVE to be. I'm called to love others. To help them. To feed them. To comfort them. To show them community. To open my table to them.
I write these words to myself because I need to hear them. What if I cook the wrong food? What if they don't like it? What if my kids disobey during the visit? Or if my house is too messy to feel comfortable for welcoming the outside world in? I'm an introvert. Can I really be this forward and open about… myself? my life? my family?
What is ‘what we eat' if it's not also ‘who we're eating it with?'
What good is the best food if it's closed off from neighbors, friends, family, and those who need the refreshment?
I don't want to have that type of home. Even if it does mean that it's clean and organized and pretty.
I want faces, familiar and unfamiliar, gathered in the mismatched chairs around the gigantic table designed for a crowd.
I want to release the pressure that I put on myself. Because I'm putting it on myself, surely, I can take it off. I want to cook. I want to nourish. I want to LOVE.
Tell me what you ate… while you were huddled around new parents loving on their baby.
Tell me what you ate… while you were praying over a friend recently diagnosed with cancer.
Tell me what you ate… while you opened your door to the neighbors you've been meaning to ‘get to know' for years.
Tell me what you ate…. while you were practicing the catechism with your children for the seven hundredth time.
Tell me what you ate… when members of your community needed full bellies to carry on, perhaps physically or spiritually, and you provided it to them.
Don't tell me what you ate. Tell me who you ate with.
More of my posts on food:
- I Believe in This Farm Life
- Inviting My Children to a (food) Revolution
- Why Homegrown Food Tastes Better
- Stop Pretending