I served this plate of hot dogs to a group of kids this week. It was 9:30 p.m. and they were hungry, so they ate hot dogs cooked on the grill and whatever leftover chips and fruit there were from the dinner I served them just four hours before.
After I have offered someone a place at my table,
Or fed them from the grill on my back deck,
Or taken a meal to them,
Or shared a meal with them,
Or prepared food for them,
Or received a food or recipe important to them,
I am satisfied.
When I fill hungry bellies my own soul is filled.
I was created for this.
Created to feed others.
Nothing else makes me feel as purposeful as I do when serving another human being a meal.
I am satisfied in a way that is like no other. It is peace.
Sometimes these shared meals are lavish, elegant meals, served on a set of China purchased 20, 30, 50 years ago and have held an important place as the center of decoration in the family’s china cabinet. These are dishes that have offered multiple feasts, been washed only to be used again. These dishes have taken main stage in helping to make memories and create traditions for families year after year after year. They have seen new family members join and said goodbye to old friends. They can take pride in knowing that no one has walked away from their place at the table hungry.
Thanksgiving or Christmas, where the Roasted Turkey or Ham takes its place at center stage on the dining room table. The mashed potatoes are perfectly whipped, the green beans rightly buttered. The cranberry sauce Ocean Spray-jellied only, thank you, or at the very least homemade with just a touch of orange zest. The peas, carrots, onions, olives, pickles, banana bread, most of which are homegrown or homemade. All done with love. These meals are feasts. There is no other way to describe them.
Other shared meals aren’t as fancy, but just as important. The roast chicken on a weekday evening shared by a family sitting around their kitchen table together, sharing events and news with each other, or the pasta dinner with salad and garlic bread, or perhaps a family favorite like pizza night. Maybe it’s a breakfast for dinner kind of night, or a picnic along the hiking trail kind of day, or a pb and j lunch around the kitchen table.
Or a plate of hot dogs cooked over a grill at 9:30 p.m. and served to a bunch of kids hanging out in my backyard.
Food isn’t the real star of the show here. The real star is the community that happens and the lives that grow together. Sometimes simply knowing that there is someone outside of your family who cares for you and your well-being feeds more than bellies.
Serving others a meal is love taking action, love pouring itself into preparations and time spent with others in mind.
The food matters not…what matters are the shared memories, the shared experience of dwelling around a table full of sustaining nourishment. Thankfully the nourishment is not just physical, but emotional and spiritual as well.
We all need each other. We need the shared community that a meal offers. Our souls were created for belonging; they will be unsatisfied until we engage in true soul to soul communion with another human being.
Share a meal with someone this week, take someone out to lunch with no time schedule, sit in the backyard and sip tea with a neighbor, make hot dogs for a group of hungry kids.
Let them talk.
Learn who this other soul is and let time go by the wayside.
You’ll be happy you did.