last night i had the privilege of having dinner with some of my favorite women on earth. women who have listened to my stories, cried with me, made food for me, and walked with me through some of the hardest transitions in life.
these women, this church, has meant the world to all 5 of us in a variety of ways. we started gathering on carrie’s front porch in the early days of summer – a gathering of friends and acquaintances from college that felt a deep need for community. a need for a place to be completely vulnerable with one another, to dive honestly into what God is asking of us, to depend on each other.
it started as dinner, as fluff, as nice reviews of our weeks, but it quickly turned into hard questions, accountability, deep community, and a strong love and bond. i believe this is what community, specifically female community, should look like. i’ve experienced its rawness, freshness, dependability, reliability, and the growth that a group of us can provide for each other.
just around the time that we started meeting, one of my favorite authors, shauna niequist, came out with her first book: cold tangerines. i bought the copy at a book signing and brought it to our little church the next day. i felt that shauna’s words spoke so much of what i was feeling, so much of what i was experiencing, and the honesty that we had together.
i felt like her stories were my stories, her experiences a mirror of some of mine. her small house church a reflection of pieces of ours. that gave me comfort, assurance that what we were doing, what we had as a female community was good. and we continued to meet, continued to challenge each other, and continued to explore what life after college looked like.
since then there have been new jobs, marriages, and babies. and with all of these changes, our group has changed as well. we’ve gone from nearby neighbors to just a bit more spread out. our gatherings now look like car rides to lansing, a middle ground for us to meet. and of course, these gatherings still involve food. we gather together around the table as women who are a community.
shauna came out with a new book, bread & wine, about this ritual – the sacred ritual of gathering around the table with loved ones and the community experienced there. in it she talks honestly about food and our culture and how we have that so mixed up. she talks about how serving the ones you love with food is one of God’s greatest gifts. she talks about the way her friends cared for her in the deepest of trials by being present and offering nourishment.
and of course, she includes some awesome recipes. from salads to risottos to gaia’s famous cookies, she demystifies some of the fear of cooking that can so easily creep in. each recipe is tied to a moment, a memory.
i believe one of God’s greatest gifts is community and food. when those two are brought together, it is truly a blessed thing. when food becomes not just an avenue to satisfy hunger, but a way to unite us, that is a blessing. and when, over a meal, we begin to share our lives with others, that i believe that God smiles.