My husband teaches with a lovely, brilliant, German woman who hosts beautiful parties to which we’ve twice been invited. Her home and gardens are pristine. She hires Bloomington’s top chef who last night delivered a Cajun production that included fried green tomatoes topped with crab salad. I actually ate two. I mentally ate six. She hired a Jacobs School chamber quintet that recently won an international competition. As people mingle, beautiful food on beautiful trays glides by on the arms of silent waiters. Used dishes disappear quietly, as if made of tissue. The actual tissues are in the pocket-doored powder room, along with thick paper hand towels and scented soaps.
Twice I’ve then there and not been invited to see the kitchen. I just itched to sneak a peek and was both impressed and a little disappointed. Top grade everything of course, but as industrial as a garage - or a restaurant. It was the strangest room I thought.
Later at home, doodling around my own kitchen I noticed my shabby counter tops, leaking faucet, and dirty floor. I giggled a little to imagine explaining to Chef David Tallent! how to he’d need pliers to turn on my oven, as the broken knobs cannot bear the weight of additional super glue. I might have coveted her Viking range just a little. I might have gloated just a little that my kitchen is warm and homey ~ a gloat soundly schooled by the Holy Spirit who suggested, in the way only the Holy Spirit and your mama can, “Now hold on right there Missy. How about you take a little walk around that beautiful party again and wear your Jesus lenses this time?” Only it wasn’t a request.
Her entire home is designed with serving others in mind. Imagine! She spends enormous time, energy and money to create an event in which her guests enjoy meals made of food they did not plan, cook or lug home from the grocery. They eat from dishes they will not wash. Why? Because she wants to, because it gives her joy to bring together people who would otherwise never meet in the same space for conversation and music. Because it please her to serve them and pleases them to be served, nourished, connected, gifted. “Yes, Mam. I see now. Thank you,” would my best response to the Holy Spirit, seconded by a gushing thank you note to the host and followed up with a different attitude.
While my tongue recalls the fried green tomatoes my spirit smarts a bit from the correction which is this ~ all that I have that is useful or beautiful comes from the Lord and is designated to others in a transaction called hospitality. The more automatic, graceful, gentle and beautiful the execution, the more Christlike it is ~ even if most people would just say, “What nice party.” ~ peace and prayers, pastor annette
P.S. If you tweet, I'd love to follow you. I'm @AnnetteBriggs.