Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Message in a Meal

Gratitude Year 4-Day 140: Today, I am grateful for the "message in a meal".

There is something about gathering around a  table (or tables) and sharing a meal that sends a powerful message.  It says: "We are family" or "My family welcomes you." 

O'Hana's is one of our favorite places to eat at Disney. It is located at the Polynesian Resort and you do not have to stay there to eat there. You do have to save a little...but when you go with is meal to remember for the warmth of the staff, the amazing food and it is one of those times that sharing the meal is certainly going to make a memory.

Today, my work family will share a meal.  The students and aides are done today. Teachers have one more day. And then, the halls will become fairly silent. Change is coming and a time of being apart...but today we will share a meal. 

What isn't there to love about a potluck?  Everyone signs up to bring their best dish. It is always good food.  Usually, ample and delicious fare. It is kind of a "food fair" without the amusement park rides, but there is always laughter, great conversations and a little break in the day. 

Still, the most valuable part of a shared meal is the message that "I value you enough to share my time...and this space."  Nearly, every culture sends strong messages through a shared meal. Sharing food is easy when there is abundance. 

Sharing food says more when you have limited reserves, but you share anyway. Mama Ina Mae loves milk to this day because in her home...where she was the oldest child of quite a herd...your got to have one glass of milk a day at home (school provided a little more) because "milk was for the babies". So, she obediently limited her desires out of love for her siblings and respect for her parents who worked hard to feed their family. When she was old enough to work, she gave a portion of her income to her parents to help "feed the kids".  Mama never told me that...but Dad did.  He loved her for many reasons, but her generous spirit and kind heart were the things that won his heart. My grandparents always had a full table...and no one went away hungry. They may not have had all the milk they desired, but they did not leave the meal hungry.

Luke 10 tells of Jesus's visit to the home of Lazarus, Mary and Martha. I think it interesting that the girls are kind of "top billing" in this piece of Jesus history.  Lazarus is present...but it is framed as their home...not simply Lazarus and his sisters. The story is full of lessons and the more I dig the more questions I find to ask.  I recently learned that to sit at the feet of a Rabbi would be suggesting that you were in training to follow in the teacher's footsteps.  Mary and Martha were women.  This was not culturally acceptable.  But Jesus paused to not only acknowledge Mary at his feet, but to reveal to Martha that it was the better choice.

How I love dear Martha.  I have some Martha's in my life that allow me to be creative and they provide the "glue" and attend to the details of joint service. They are precious to me. I will defend my Martha's and I depend on their gifts, for without them...mine are not complete. We work in community.  Poor Martha was trying to get a meal ready, for heaven's sake...and had the most important house guest ever!  Mary was not pulling her weight. 

But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary.[a] Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” -Luke 10:40-42

There is a wealth of "good stuff" in this passage to chew on.  One of the lessons for me is to not become so distracted with serving that we don't savor the relationships. "Martha was distracted with much serving."  I think, at some level, it was her "sweet spot" of service.  She could make a table beautiful and the food fabulous.  Mary helped, but I think Martha ran the kitchen.  Still, there are times to pause and simply enjoy the company. The true gift of hospitality does both.  I have wished at times it was my gift. I have amazing friends that are masters and I am always blessed to dine in their homes... at their tables.

Still, at the heart of the passage there the reminder to be cognizant of what really matters most. Relationships, learning, supporting and simply spending time together.  In a nutshell, Jesus is telling Martha:
"You need to love me. And love each other (even Mary when you are irritated with her)." 

Funny...that theme shows up again if we look a little closer.  It is always there. Our God is love.  He loved us enough to leave heaven and become one of us... to be with us... and to dine at our table.

On Jesus last night before he was taken and crucified...he shared a meal with his disciples in a home. Yes...meals around a table matter. It sends a strong message. 

Today, I am grateful for the "message in a meal".

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