Simple Feast of Friendship

Simple Feast of Friendship

May the meals that I prepare, be seasoned from above,
With Thy great blessings and Thy grace but most of all, Thy love.
So bless my little kitchen, Lord, and those who enter in,
May they find naught but joy and peace and happiness therein.
— Kitchen Prayer

A Simple Feast of Friendship

It is the day after Thanksgiving. What will I be grateful for at the end of this day? Hordes of bargain-hunters have set their alarms for the wee small hours of the morning and have arisen with a mission. I’m not above such frenzied commerce, but today I nod in its direction and am able to pass it by. Today is a blank check, and I will not spend it in spending.

What business would you have me about today, Lord? I’m mindful of the message from last week’s sermon: what will I choose to do today that will outlive me? The rest of my family members all have specific plans today—to see, to do, and to accomplish—and I’m now alone and wondering how to best use this treasure of an unscheduled day.

I spend a few moments journaling my confusion and then drift down to the kitchen to deal with the turkey leftovers. While I chop and slice, I enjoy the virtuous feeling of using leftovers to create a fragrant vat of savory soup. I’m aware of several things. One is that turkey carcasses make a much richer broth than anything that comes in a can, so this soup could quite possibly be remarkable. I’m not using a recipe; I’m creating something out of what I have available, tossing in a dash of this and dollop of that. There has never been a soup exactly like this one before, and I could not reproduce it exactly if I wanted to.

I do the same with the bread. Having pulled the bread machine out of deep storage, I mix whole-wheat flour with other ingredients I think will be beneficial- a bit of honey, a handful of oatmeal, even a pinch of Parmesan.

The second thing I realize is that the result of my hours of labor: making a soup, a loaf, a salad, will be gone by nightfall. After having intended to spend my day doing something of lasting value, it turns out I have used up all my discretionary hours back in the kitchen, a place you’d think I’d want to avoid the day after Thanksgiving. I ruefully predict that we’ll eat in a hurry and quickly move on to our evening’s activities. Did I waste my day after all?

Dinner is Served

A decision to set the table in the dining room, to use the china and tablecloth I like best, to add flowers and candles, starts to change the feel of this meal for me. Just the right instrumental CD, and the arrival of two unexpected and exceedingly welcome guests turn this simple meal into a splendid occasion. My family and I squeeze together around the table to make room for our friends, Mandy and Brian, and I give thanks, both for the food and for the continued friendship of these former students.

My young visitors offer up their bowls for seconds and together we eat every slice of the two loaves of bread I’ve made. The heartiness and warmth of the meal, coupled with the aesthetic atmosphere, create a moment of intimacy—the perfect setting for a deep talk with Mandy that enriches us both.

After the guests leave, and I am alone again in the kitchen, I review the day— was my effort fruitless? What about my lofty plan to spend my time on something that would outlast me? What did I actually accomplish?

The answer comes: Nothing tangible, but something meaningful — a simple feast of friendship.

The Story Continues…