Monday, September 23, 2013

On Picnicking Together


"Jesus consistently chose unconventional table fellowship as the sign of God's kingdom. And so faced with a crowd of five thousand, he drives home the message he's been preaching - about the spiritual unimportance of religious and social barriers - by inviting everyone to share a meal on the spot. The point is not the food. It is hands-on learning. Do this, Jesus says, and you'll taste what life in the kingdom of God is like. - Jesus Freak, Sara Miles


I'm stuck lately.

On one hand, I want life and time to be slower, quieter, less crowded, more relaxed.
But on the other hand, I just can't get enough of the messy, ridiculous, hilarious, rowdy people around me, the ones who care for and about me, need me, the ones who just let me be. I want every single one of them. (Even on the days I don't think I do, I somehow know I'm wrong.)

While exhausting, this cluttered-up, chaotic life of ours is both highly entertaining and immensely gratifying.

It's a precarious situation for us die-hard introverts here on 5th Street.

My Sunday started off grumpy and selfish. I didn't want plans in the evening. I wanted to hole up with a book and a blanket and shut all the way down.

But we hopped on our bikes with a jar of pickles and a Pyrex dish of corn, and we rode to the neighborhood harvest picnic.


 Of course it was exactly what my soul needed.

We made friends with our neighbors, because that's what happens when people come together with paper plates of pulled pork and pico, store-bought cookies and jugs of tea.

We buzzed around the buffet in our paper name tags, complimenting this dish and that one, asking for the recipe, pointing to the West or the North, I live right over there.

I never had this before, or at least not like this. I used to run from these situations. I decided they were much too awkward. I had better things to do. I didn't see the beauty of picking up my heavy plate and moving one table over, where my neighbor sat, a stranger to me, but not for long.

So on the one hand, I want more days where I just stay home, just us - just us six.
But on the other hand, I can't get enough of breaking bread with my family - all of them, any of them.





Mealtime is becoming a force to be reckoned with around here. We're scheduled out, and it makes me crazy while it makes me sane. The tables change, the menus change, the faces change, but at dinnertime, every one of us is pared down to our basic needs. We need food and we need community. Magic happens when they land together.

We load up a plate and slow way down, long enough to focus on the eyes around us, to pass high praise for the butterscotch cake, to remember one more time that we were meant to be together.

It's almost as if Jesus wanted it this way.



I wonder sometimes if it's really okay. I worry my kids are losing something in the mix, because that's what some would say. We should really slow down. We should stay home more. We should close our doors.

But I think of all we would suffer from that peace. I think about what it would cost us and I'll take healing over solitude any day. We'll always have our hunker-down days. But on all the others, we'll pass the plate, the bread, the complicated Mexican spaghetti, our last jar of beans.

We'll break that bread and decide to keep on keeping each other.

It's the only way that makes sense.


23 comments:

  1. Love. This. I'm working so hard to build community like this - in a rural area where there just naturally isn't this kind of coming together due to ditance. That, and people don't get it. thanks for the reminder to just keep on! Love this!

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  2. Oh, and I know it's totally not about the food... but I surely would love to see that menu plan you put together a few weeks ago! :-)

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  3. How did this picnic get organized? We live in a failing school district and we somewhat know our neighbors, but don't have a real handle on how to REALLY know them. This feels like it could be a great way to meet and really forge relationships with those around us. :)

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    1. Our picnic was organized by the neighborhood association...I'm not even sure that's what they call themselves? But they brought around little flyers, simple and to the point. They also sent an email out, but I have a feeling the paper flyers were essential. They provided meat, drinks, and paper goods. Everyone was asked to bring a dish to share. I really recommend finding a way to eat with your people. It really makes a huge difference!

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  4. I love this! We had the best of "intentions" to plan a neighborhood gathering over the summer and just like so many other good intentions it never happened. HOWEVER, last night a couple of us were emailing and decided that when I get back from my trip we are no longer going to sit and rest on our good intentions, we are going to MAKE it happen.

    Thanks for yet another reminder of the beauty of community!

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  5. Eating together is such an easy and simple way to get to know people - it just gets easier with food around, doesn't it? Maybe if our hands and mouths have something to do we feel less awkward?

    Love that picture of Leo! Thanks for bringing him in to the family last night. :)

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  6. i want to chew on this all day.

    pun most definitely intended. xoxo.

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  7. I would be prone to run from a situation like this as I do not make the small talk good. (See?)

    But alas, growth is rarely comfortable. Thank you for pointing the way... again.

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    1. Does anyone enjoy small talk? It makes me itchy.
      But food is SUCH an ice-breaker! :)

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  8. thank you for sharing this...your thoughts, your struggles through it. it challenges my introverted self to the core. thank you.

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  9. I woke up this morning pondering this week's schedule and every day after work we have somewhere to be. I started feeling overwhelmed and wanting to hide and cancel and settle in with my book and just "nest." Although I am not introverted, I've wanted calm, and peace and quiet more often than not lately. My soul is tired and telling me to "stop." You're post came at a good time. I can so relate as most of my to do lists this week is church, people and ministry related.

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  10. The picnic looks like fun. Reminds me of the ones in our neighborhood. Silas looks like such a big boy these days....he is loosing the baby face. I think you are really on the right track of taking time to smell the roses.

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  11. I can so relate to wanting to stay home, read and be quiet. I have a tendency to be introverted and social neighbor things make me uncomfy.

    However, I've noticed lately that life won't let me- and it's good. I'm being forced out of my house, into loving neighbor dogs and kids.. And I love it.

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  12. In all our years of living in neighborhoods we've yet to have any type of get together on this scale. My parents used to have parties and attend block parties all the time. We children would have a blast while the parents talked boring talk. ;)

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  13. I agree with everyone here. This is exactly what I would like to do in our square mile. But I need help! I too don't like the chit-chat. Who does? My hubby! He can talk to almost anyone. I love him for that. Thanks for sharing your story.

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  14. what would shannan do. i want that to be my mantra. fear not sister. i havent put you up high on a pedestal. i know you totally would not like that. you'd roll your eyes and say "get real"...but you live a life that does nothing but leave me wishing i had the bravery to do the same.

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  15. It would be hard to share those pickles. But life is lived in moments. My personality mostly wants to avoid moments. But every now and then, my brain forces me to seize them. And it's always right.

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  16. It would be hard to share those pickles. But life is lived in moments. My personality mostly wants to avoid moments. But every now and then, my brain forces me to seize them. And it's always right.

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  17. I haven't been by your blog in awhile. Wow, the kids are getting big! Ruby especially, so tall and beautiful! :)

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  18. I haven't been by your blog in awhile. Wow, the kids are getting big! Ruby especially, so tall and beautiful! :)

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  19. So, I can't figure out how to email you -- but I wanted to chat with you if you wouldn't mind about coordinating something like this for my new neighborhood in Phoenix. It is a rough group, but we all live together and I want to say hello, share cookies and casseroles and get to know everyone. Ideas?

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