Tag Archives: Feast

Thanksgiving Dinner With Perfect Strangers

24 Nov

Today I had thanksgiving with a family I don’t even know. I was unsure about it before hand. I text my friend Mere and said it was going to be awkward. She said “Awkward makes for the best stories!” She is wise. So I decided to write about it.

It’s not like I didn’t know anyone. I know the grandma, my temporary next-door neighbor, a spunky lady with red wire-rimmed glasses nicknamed by her kids and grandkids “Ba-poo.”

I walked in and was immediately welcomed with hands, drinks, open arms, questions, jokes, a tour of the beautiful home and introductions and explanations of “who’s who” in the tangled family tree.

“TEXAS?! You’re from TEXAS!? Honey, come here!”

I was hugged tightly by a (Texan) daughter-in-law, finally feeling ok with saying that’s where I am “from.”

As usual, it’s not always simple to explain who I am and what I am doing here.

“Technically, I was born in California but I grew up in New Hampshire but I’ve lived in Texas eight years.”

“What part??”

“East… near Tyler… then near Dallas…”

“So what are you doing here?”

“Working on a book project…blah blah blah explain, explain  la la la.”

“Oh like ghostwriting?”

“Umm sort of… kind of like a collaboration…”

This repeated many times throughout the evening.

I could barely keep track of  who I was meeting,  but I can’t keep track of my own life either and somehow it all works out.

A few drinks in and it didn’t matter. Then the food came.

Sitting at a table together, barriers come down.

It didn’t matter I didn’t know anyones dreams and desires, or even the favorite band of the twenty-one year old next to me or whether he believes in God. We both thought it is damn good cheesy corn casserole and in the moment, that’s what mattered.

It didn’t matter they had been through weddings, births, deaths, divorces, years and miles with each other and I came into their world thirty minutes ago, they accepted me as a human being.

And don’t forget football. Nothing brings people together (especially in the South) like football. Though I feel estranged from that world, like a bored alien observing a foreign planet where men in spandex run around with a ball and people scream,  I could at least relate to the fact the venue they played in was ten minutes down the road from where my old apartment was.

The conversation continued over touch-downs and three types of stuffing and two types of turkey and too much gravy.

“So what’s your book about?”

“Ummm…. well, it’s like… blah blah blah and then sort of like blah blah ‘loosely based’ on The Wizard of Oz.’ Mumble, mumble, na na. Yes.”

Or something like that.

Ok, so maybe I ate and drank too much to make sense, or maybe I never do anyway. Maybe I love the fact it doesn’t take a simple sentence to explain my life.

I  got a bit misty-eyed when I looked around at the love this family had for each other, laughed hysterically at the anecdotes about other years when the cat’s tail caught on fire, and I stifled a giggle when the seven-year old said the blessing,

“And I pray for the pilgrims…. even though they are dead…”

Though I was far from people who really know me (besides my dear friend Becca) it didn’t matter. Because there is something raw and real and beautiful and maybe a little messy about sitting down at a table to eat with perfect strangers on a holiday that is all about friends and family, only to walk away feeling completely satisfied in my stomach and in my heart.

And finally, here are some points of gratitude as of lately…. 

Soundtrack of my life lately: Katie Herzig & Josh Garrells.

Watching Hulu with Becca after a long day.

Memoirs. Brennan Manning’s in particular.

Spinach. (I put it in everything, can’t get enough)

The miracle of writing one more chapter.

Spontaneous Sushi lunches with Steve.


Watching the leaves fall off the trees as I walk around the neighborhood.

Laying on the swing-bench just to look up at the sky and breathe.

Yoga to wake up.

Jean-Thomas randomly calling throughout the day.

That I get to see The Civil Wars finally in two weeks.

That I get to go (home) to Texas in two and a half weeks.

Knowing this book will be completed.

Jesus… all He is… the beauty all around me He is continually opening my sleepy eyes to see….

What if Grace was so thick it hung in the air like a dense fog? With every breath you breathe in pure Grace, there is no distance, no lack, no barrier. You couldn’t take in a breath without filling your lungs with Pure Life. 

This is exactly the way it is…

(Steve Roy)

A Handful of Crumbs- Thoughts on Grace & Identity

18 Nov

I picked up this memoir by Kim Sunee, “Trail of Crumbs” partially because the cover was pretty, partially because it was on clearance for $5, but mostly because of the subtitle,

“Hunger, Love and the Search for Home.”

That subtitle could just as well describe the book I am currently working on, “The Wizard of God.”

Anyways, it’s a beautiful and intriguing life story. Kim was abandoned on a bench in South Korea when she was three, left with nothing but a fistful of crumbs to survive on. She sat there for three days until a policeman finally brought her to an orphanage where she was adopted by an American couple.

Fast forward many years. Kim meets a wealthy French businessman man who is charming and wonderful and gives her everything she has ever wanted. I was swept into the beauty of their life together, living in the countryside of France in a huge house surrounded by orchards and gardens. Kim cooks these fabulous dinner parties for traveling guests, exquisite combinations that made me long for new food and new places. Her lover bought her a building in Paris to open her own book store that specializes in poetry. There she meets fascinating artists and writers from all over the world. Her life seemed ideal. A fairy tale. She came from nothing, and was given everything.

And it wasn’t just money. He loved her too. Passionately,  in a way that made all their friends jealous.

That would seem like the end of the perfect story, right?

No. she couldn’t do it. She couldn’t stay. She left him and threw everything she had away.

Why? Two reasons stuck out in my mind.

After being abandoned as a child, and growing up in an American family that was emotionally distant, she traveled to try to “find herself,” find a place where she belonged.

She thought she could find herself in a man, in this group of friends who were built around her in France, but it wasn’t enough.

She needed the one she came from to give her an identity.

The other reason was, in her lack of knowing who she was, in her struggling with abandonment and rejection, when offered the wonderful gifts of not only a beautiful life, but the heart of a loving man, she felt like she didn’t deserve it.

It’s impossible to accept grace when we don’t know who we are.

She was left in this world with nothing but a handful of crumbs, and so that’s what she built her identity around. She tried to get professional help, but it never subsided the ache. The more her lover lavished expensive and beautiful gifts on her, the more empty she felt.

I am not trying to psychoanalyze this woman specifically. The reason I write about her story in particular because as I was reading it I was struck with the idea that is perhaps the human condition.

We were born into this world with nothing, naked and screaming. We are often left with nothing more than a handful of crumbs, a few grains of rice, pieces we try to put together to make a life for ourselves, to create a home and a family, to find a sense of belonging.

A little boy in a slum in Chennai India, getting his one meal of the day.

Some of us find grace, find God.

We see He is not angry, we see He has given us good things. But often the more He gives, the harder it is to accept. That sense of debt that was established sometime in the losing of our innocence surfaces.

“Who am I to deserve this?”

The question can really be edited, cut in half, leaving the first three words for us to contend with,

“Who am I?”

It’s easy to see the brokeness, the tragic mistakes we’ve made, the reasons we were left with nothing.

It’s a lot harder to see who we really are:

Sacred, beautiful, works of art.

“It is our light  not our darkness that most frightens us.”

C.S Lewis said it this way in The Weight of Glory, 

“It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship…There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal.”

So, what then?

Is there some simple formula? Do we do like this awesome girl and repeat in the mirror every morning convincing ourselves that we are really wonderful people?

I love this video. Yet, there are  not enough magic words to overcome a lifetime of feeling we are unworthy.

There can never be enough people telling you how brilliant or fabulous you are, when your  inner voice that tells says you will never be enough.

It is only in the opening of our ears to hear the whispers of The One who created, the only one with the right to tell us who we are. It is only in believing that we are free

To quote Lewis again,

“And that is enough to raise your thoughts to what may happen when the redeemed soul, beyond all hope and nearly beyond belief, learns at last that she has pleased Him whom she was created to please. There will be no room for vanity then. She will be free from the miserable illusion that it is her doing. With no taint of what we should now call self-approval she will most innocently rejoice in the thing that God has made her to be, and the moment which heals her old inferiority complex forever will also drown her pride… Perfect humility dispenses with modesty.”
― C.S. LewisThe Weight of Glory

We may see ourselves as having only a handful of crumbs, but there is a veil that has been ripped and beyond that, there is a feast we can sit down and partake in anytime we like.

Once we see this feast, once we understand we are no longer slaves but sons and daughters, we can invite the whole world to come, sit, and dine.

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