Kara’s Collection: Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist

From an article originally posted March 31, 2014…

The heart of hospitality is about creating space for someone to feel seen and heard and loved. It’s about declaring your table a safe zone, a place of warmth and nourishment.

― Shauna Niequist, Bread & Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table, with Recipes

Alright, I’m a new fan. I’m only a few chapters in, and I’m ready to sing from the mountain tops that I love this woman. This book is at the very heart of how I want to live, try to live, and hope for my well days to be lived. When we moved into our home I asked Jason to build me an impossibly big table—for the very reasons she mentions in this book. My table has been happily crowded, but not nearly as much as I have hoped. But at the heart of wanting the giant table is that I have seen the best of life happen around a table. I am not fancy in any way, but I want my life and love to be met around the table.

Shauna says there are two people in this world: the ones that wake up thinking about dinner and the ones that don’t. When she said that, I knew she and I would be friends. Each chapter she writes grace through the filter of food. It’s beautiful. She writes of the pain of life, the hard she has faced, and the impossible moments; and with each moment she names the flavors.

I am home today with a sick little one. I have enjoyed each chapter as a meal I needed to eat. Her words have spoken grace and nourished on this parched day. I have moved through the day of care, quiet, cartoons, and found moments in the corner of my bedroom reading her savory words. I have dreamed of my own blueberry cobbler dinners after long days of church. I can almost see the small flecks of vanilla bean in my bowl served sweet and with love to my family after a day of sharing love.

I asked my guy if he would mind a dinner of dessert becoming our family tradition after Sunday worship as well. He agreed to it, but asked that we change up the fruit now and then... just to keep it interesting. So, after the loud morning together with Westside, our family will be meeting over the quiet meeting of sweet together. I rarely ever do dessert, but this feels perfect. Just perfect.

I look forward to meeting love around my table in the days to come. This book gives me the inspiration beyond what I feel the energy to do. Her words remind me that the work of the meal isn’t the point. Not at all. The point of the meal is the communion of those who are joined around the table. There will be days I can create the intricate meals she includes, and there will be days we meet around the table with our favorite bean and cheese burritos from La Casita. It’s the meeting, the loving, the time together today that matters. No need to be impressive—just breathing, alive, sharing grace together. That’s the meal.

Run—don’t walk—and find this book. It’s a story, a grace, a recipe, a destination. Stop worrying over perfection; no one cares. Meet around your table and find community and love that you never expected. She started her journey with frozen pizza and wine. We all can do that. It’s a great place to begin.

How do you find love around your table? What makes you afraid to open your home? What scares you about opening your home? How could opening your life and your home deepen your community? Who in your life could use a connection around your table? Who is god gently calling you to embrace around your table? How can you make a place of safety around your table to love another? Are you feeling lonely today?  Plan a meal.