All in Hospitality

Cooking

I love to roam the food writing section of a bookstore, thumbing through cookbooks and looking for the latest cooking memoir. Though my kitchen shelves are nearly full, I can always squeeze in another book of recipes or something educational and fun to read like Michael Pollan’s Cooked. I feel a kinship with people who work with food and spend untold hours in the kitchen. I’m drawn to their stories like a magnet.

Our Gathering Song

However we hit it, we’re usually all happy by the time we finish the Doxology. No matter how we started, we end in gladness. Singing that poem of praise with these people has lifted my fog or funk or fatigue. We may yet find snark during our meal. One or more of the boys may yet complain or provoke or chew with his mouth open and get a rebuke. The preschooler may yet take my coveted last piece of bread for himself. The baby will undoubtedly throw something gleefully on the floor. But we’ve begun with thanksgiving, which is the least we can do.

When Time Slows Down

I think back to this Paris trip often. How gracious it was of my mom to not demand the time with me. How focused I was on seeing as much as I could, when the most meaningful and fleeting thing was beside me. The best part of Paris didn’t end up being the Louvre or the Seine. The best part of Paris ended up the time I spent with my mother.

Heading Home

Baseball is the embodiment of hope—a sense that is depleting with each new ailment my grandparents suffer. Every batter that approaches the plate is like a new mercy with the potential of fixing all of the previous wrongs. Baseball is the game for the most moderate of hopefuls - if the batter hits the ball at least one out of every three attempts, we call him great. That’s the sort of expectation my grandparents have lived in their lives, never hoping for too much, but working their hearts out to stay above too little. Now, as their physical capacity to enjoy life fades a little bit each day, they’re hoping for a little relief from nine innings of possibilities.

What are We if Not Burdens?

It is obtusely modern to avoid the appearance of being a burden to anyone, least of all those we call friends. Neediness reeks of weakness, and vice versa, and there isn’t much space for needy people in our self-confident, never-enough culture. An emotional wreck myself, I admit to the failure of isolation and individualism. Rather than having admitted any sort of need, I’ve taken shelter in the false forests, crawling along its trails with a backpack much too heavy, snuffing out the wisps of grief, raking the carcass of shame across the embers of anxiety, and making meals out of burden.

The Full Spectrum

There is only one element I don’t want here in this jumble of life that is suddenly, surprisingly beautiful to me. Except sometimes I do want it, when the autism augments the good of who my daughter is without adding to her misery, that same misery we all know in one way or another during this life between Edens. What I want is for the autism to diminish, and if it can’t do that in her bodily experience, then at least it can grow smaller within the space it takes up in my imagining and understanding of this wonderful girl. I don’t yet know how to relegate it to its proper place, but I am hopeful. If my favorite house is the messy one now, then I can change and grow, too.

I’ve Loved This

I have not liked it here, and I’ve felt guilty about not liking it here: I know I should be grateful for a roof over my head, a safe and warm place to sleep, enough money to pay the rent and other bills. I know we were lucky to have six years in our previous place, and to leave it on good terms. Yet I’ve missed the old place and struggled to find reasons to love the new. It has not felt like home, though we’ve adjusted, done our best to make it work. But now, ironically, as we prepare to leave, I’m realizing what I have liked, even loved, about this place. 

Meeting Barbara

Romero was blooming last year the week I moved to Pittsburgh. I was intrigued, but busy unpacking and settling in. This year when an email from Phipps announced, “They’re coming to SNIFF you, Barbara,” I decided to go. It was an excuse to run away from home.

Wild Wonder: Embodying Faith through Creation Care Camp

At camp, we sing, “All your works are good. From everlasting to everlasting, all your works are good.” We live in that in-between-time, where all things are not yet made right. But when we plant a seed in the ground or prepare a feast for thirty campers or delight at the soft touch of a newborn lamb, we are partaking in the heavenly Kingdom. The plant, the bread, the created life of the little lamb—from everlasting to everlasting, ALL of these things are good. 

Lessons from Dogs

A wise friend once told me that there is always some element of sacrifice involved to help something or someone else flourish. And in those painful moments reckoning what was happening with the dog that we loved, I realized that blessing creation, both human and non-human alike, might not be what you expect and usually comes at a cost.