I grew up standing next to my mother in the kitchen chopping and preparing the meal. Our family time revolved around sharing stories at the dinner table. My husband grew up in a parsonage where his mom was always baking an apple pie for the next potluck or iced sugar cookies for family tea time after Sunday night church. So when the pandemic hit last March, our eating rituals were ransacked.

Initially we didn’t even gather with our kids and grandkids. But then my husband had the brainstorm that we could order a to-go meal for each household and sit down to eat the common meal together via zoom. What unfolded tasted like manna from heaven. It was enough to carry us through those initial days of wilderness.

When summer heated up the backyard we realized that we could safely share dinner with another couple by placing a leaf in the patio table. I abandoned my custom of fussing for days over the menu and meal prep and house cleaning and found pure delight in laughing and talking with friends in the back yard over a container of take-out fried chicken. We savored the company and relaxed as the sun set and the fireflies appeared. I remembered the card that a friend gave me that said, “A good cook knows that it’s not what is on the table that matters, it’s what is in the chairs.” Maybe that is why in scripture Jesus is always dining with the poor, the rich, the stranger, the tax collector, his friends.

For most of my married life, dinner was something wedged in between soccer practice, church meetings and evening clients and might consist of standing up in the kitchen to eat leftovers at 9:00 p.m. or grabbing dinner on the run at a restaurant. But with covid came the chance to actually plan meals with my husband and try weeknight recipes. Our favorites came from Half Baked Harvest and we particularly loved the creamy salmon and spinach dish.

Life can be so busy and blurry that we do not savor the gifts of life. When the risen Christ appeared to his friends on the road to Emmaus, they did not recognize his voice, his face, his walk, but when invited him in for a meal of fish and bread their eyes were opened and they recognized it was Jesus.

Even in times of hardship, God nourishes our bodies with gifts from the earth and those gifts nourish our souls when we share them with companions on life’s journey. I look forward to seeing you again at our shared communion table.

Grace and peace,