My childhood is not interlaced with memories that include family meals. I remember family get togethers, Sunday lunches at Grandma’s. I am an only child. As I remember it, I cannot recall too many times where my father and mother and I sat around the table together at dinnertime. When I was about nine years old, my parents divorced. My mother remarried shortly thereafter. I never went to visit my father in his new residence until after I myself had gotten married in my mid-twenties. We would meet once in a while at a restaurant throughout my growing up years. I cannot remember one family style, sit down dinner with him in our home. Maybe it’s because I am repressing memories in some part of my brain, or maybe it just wasn’t very common. The home I grew up in after my parent’s divorced was plagued with a very, very critical palate. My stepfather doesn’t appreciate any sort of spice, and eats a very bland diet. I can remember one meal that my mom cooked and he got up from the table and went to the sink and actually ran water over whatever she’d cooked then proceeded to eat it. If I had married a man that was so overbearing and non-accepting of my attempts in the kitchen, there probably wouldn’t be too many attempts made at creating delicious meals or memories involving a family table.
Never having been led to see the importance of nutrition, it really wasn’t until my early twenties that I had any inkling at towards the value of nutritional intake. I was living as a single on an island in the South Pacific called Saipan. In this culture, I was surrounded by a lot of asian cuisine, and less of American influence. I lived for a little more than a year with a Singaporean roomate. My favorite people to spend time with were Chinese people that were working on the island in garment factories. That’s a whole different story, and maybe it can be shared another day. I was working as a kindergarten teacher in an international mission school. Because of my mismanagement of my body, I was getting pretty run down, weak and very susceptible to illness. I had made a friend there who became very dear and he taught me how important the nutrients are that we take into our bodies. I began to learn, and I think this was the real beginning of my interest in cooking. Beyond making cookies, frosting a cake and whipping up some deviled eggs, I cannot remember cooking much with my mom in our home kitchen. In Saipan, there came a time when I lived on my own without any roomates. By this time, I was so homesick and hungry for foods (comfort foods) that I would cook for myself. My friend cooked with me sometimes, and it was the beginning of my first and best memories made around a home table. In our mission school, there were other single teachers, I loved to cook for them and loved having us all enjoy a meal together around the table, or barbecuing at the beach and enjoying the outdoors together. I met my husband in relationship to this teaching job. I can remember on our trip home to the island from getting married on the mainland, I had bought a cookbook and was reading it in flight. As we have been married (now approaching 13 years), I have cooked so many meals. I have come to see and believe that what we eat has much to do with how we feel and our health. I approach my own health and wellness and that of our entire family’s through the lens of nutrition. Twelve years of marriage and three kids has not always made it possible to sit around a table and fellowship as we did in our first days of getting to know each other in Saipan, almost 15 years ago. But I think I can say that still one of our favorite things to do is cook and share a meal together as a family or with another family, or a single or children.
This last year, a family came into our lives and had I known what was ahead of me, maybe I’d not known the precious treasure of this that I am about to share with you.
It was a spring afternoon, Sunday after church. We walked out to our churches playground and found a couple that we had recently been acquainted with from our church’s small group. My husband and I sat and talked with them a few minutes at a picnic table there by the church’s playground area. We were hungry, and we were enjoying their fellowship, so we invited them home with us. I had some left overs from a lamb roast, and they brought some stuff they picked up along the way. That afternoon was the sweet beginning of a very precious set of relationships that will no doubt have indelibly touched our lives for eternity. In the last year, with that same family, we have spent more time around the table than I can count. I have never cooked or shared a kitchen alongside of or with any woman like this lady. It was almost like a very kindred heart entered our home and unlocked so many doors of my heart that I never even knew were there, that they were shut, and really almost like they’d never been visited.
In addition to ordinary everyday meals, we were blessed to have been able to share some holiday meals, family celebratory meals together, and most recently, we were introduced to an Easter meal called Sedar which we enjoyed together with this family. This lady passed to me her family’s recipe collection of favorite recipes, and I worked through it and found comfort foods to treasure. I taught her how to make bread! I shared with her all that I had learned about wheat, grains, dairy, nutritional healing. It was the most precious exchange…
I cannot remember where I read it, it may have been something that
C.S. Lewis wrote, or it may have been from a book I recently read by Tim Keller. There are these little tastes or little small glimpses we experience in this life in this terrestrial realm that really are just a small piece of the glory awaiting us ahead. In my childhood, I never knew the familial treasure of the home table. As I grow in my adulthood and in my marriage, I am beginning to see the wonder of the family life surrounding the kitchen, cooking, and the dinnertable. As I meet God’s people and have the opportunity to feel within my heart that kindred resonating love of GOD and His presence between us, I am filled with awe and HOPE eagerly anticipating what His place will be. He said “I am going to prepare a place for you, and if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself that where I am there you may be also.” He’s there ahead of us now, making the preparations just like we do when our guests are coming. He said to the disciples that He would not drink of the wine any more until the day when He would drink it together with us. In Revelation 19, and in Matthew 22 there is a banqueting table. Can you hardly even imagine what it will be like not to just have one family that your heart was knit with there with you, but every one of His children from your whole sacred history that indelibly He used to touch your life eternally. Those sweet souls, coupled with the saints of old you never had ever even gotten to know before. Add in the blessed fellowship of your loved ones that have gone on ahead of you into His eternal day. I can almost imagine it, but not completely. It’s going to be so wonderful. Our best memories and most blessed times of fellowship here are whispers of HOPE calling our attention to a greater Day coming, one in which there will never be a goodbye. There’ll never have to be an end, then. There’ll be no sorrow. No conflicts. No hindrances. No sin. All will be like new. HOPE. This sparrowcry is singing that HOPE.