“Do you want to go to dinner with some friends of mine?” Dan asked back when we were hiking and snowshoeing and building a friendship, back when we were ‘non-dating.’
It almost sounded like a date, but it wasn’t really. I think he simply didn’t want to meet up at a restaurant with three other couples and feel like the third wheel. Or so I told myself.
Turns out, Dan hadn’t warned his friends—who all knew and loved his deceased wife—that he was bringing a strange woman to dinner. I’m pretty sure I saw a couple of jaws drop, but they recovered nicely.
And they’ve been kind and inclusive ever since.
Dan and I have been camping this past week high in the Cascades with this same group of friends. For the evening meals, each family brings something to throw on the barbecue and we share our side dishes: potato salad, baked beans, watermelon, corn on the cob, dessert.
It makes for a lovely outdoor feast.
I was thinking about how these annual campouts are celebrations of being outdoors and on the water, but mostly celebrations of the long-term friendships—some in this crew have known each other since high school.
And I was thinking about how God invented celebrations and parties to mark and remember milestones, to honor the people in our lives: at weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, homecomings.
Shauna Niequist wrote in her book, Bread & Wine, about God’s provision of food, and about the holiness of hands as they prepare the food:
Learn—little by little, meal by meal—to feed yourself and the people you love, because food is one of the ways we love each other, and the table is one of the most sacred places we gather.
This small band of old friends has included me. And we’ve assembled once again to share life and laughter and food and memories. And whether they recognize it or not, this is a sacred assembly. And the hands that have prepared the food we share are doing a holy work.
It’s a perspective I want to embrace as Dan and I gather with friends, as we gather people into our home, as we gather around our dinner table.
Remember this: We are occupying a sacred space, and this is a holy moment.