This series, An Everlasting Meal and A Moveable Feast, is dedicated to touching on the places where food and faith intersect. I'm grateful to be able to share unique and diverse voices with you while I take time away to finish writing my book, which is due here at the end of September.
Today, my lovely, generous, joyful friend Alise shares. What I love about Alise is that to think of her is to think of light. Brilliant, incandescent, boisterous laughter and warmth. Alise cares deeply about the true things, which have led her to walk the walls of orthodoxy and overturn the forgotten stones of quiet faith. She shines. Simple as that.
It was far too late to be going out to dinner. Maybe when I was in high school or college, but I was a grown-up lady with four kids and a husband at home and by the time we were done, it was going to be tomorrow.
The rehearsal for the Christmas eve service had run far later than expected, and when Jonathan suggested to Rich and me that we should go unwind and grab something to eat, saying no simply wasn’t an option.
We piled into our vehicles and drove around, looking for something that was open late, finally settling on a local chain of diners that had 24-hour service. We flopped into the booth, pouring over the menus as we tried to figure out what we were hungry for in the middle of the night.
We ordered our meals. Sandwiches, pancakes, dessert, coffee, coke. Nothing gourmet, nothing healthy.
But the food wasn’t what was feeding us that night.
Christmas is hard, and this was the first Christmas that I had really allowed myself to grieve the loss of my husband’s faith. I loved the opportunity to join with my friends at church to make music, but there was an emptiness in that as well. It provided a strange mixture of filling my need to connect to my faith, while simultaneously making me feel even more removed from my husband.
The words “I have no gift to bring” hung in the air. And while I wanted to put all of myself into my performance, I felt too weak. The hunger and thirst for my husband and I to share faith sapped my energy.
The banquet of music was laid before me, but I couldn’t partake. When before I could drink deep and bite off big chunks, at this time, all I could do was nibble. The stench of my failure as a good Christian wife filled my nostrils and and put off my appetite, but all the while, my hunger remained. I watched as others feasted, wishing I could join them.
But I had allowed my husband to stray. I was liberal in my theology and my liberalism had lead him away from Jesus into a godless existence. It was my fault that he was no longer a Christian and the guilt of that made partaking in the joy of worship difficult.
“I have no gift to bring, that’s fit to give the king.”
The food was delivered to our table. We dug in, sharing bites from one another’s plates. And as we ate, we talked. Late night stretched into early morning as we lingered around the table, as our impromptu celebration of friendship fed my spirit.
I don’t remember much of our conversation that night. I’m sure there was nothing life changing or profound. I know that we talked about our faith, our politics, our love of music. Because of who was there, I know there was much laughter. I know that our evening ended with long embraces and the words, “I love you.”
Those sub-par blueberry pancakes didn’t fill me that night. The coffee left me jittery and made it hard for me to sleep when I got home. Staying awake far later than I intended made me less productive the next day.
But the hunger and thirst for connection, for acceptance was sated.
The next time I was at the table, I could sup.
Alise is a wife, a mother of four, an eater of soup, and a lover of Oxford commas. Her writing reflects her life and her relationships with all of the “wrong” people that God keeps bringing into her life. You can generally find her sitting behind a keyboard of some kind: playing or teaching the piano, writing at her laptop, or texting her friends a random movie quote. Connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, or her blog.