Commotion swirls the kitchen scene as though a cyclone struck a carnival; favorable smells and people and food and words, all jumbled together in volume. A dinner party. Stories start and stop, conversations rise and fall like tides; plates and cups and bowls and knives shuffle and clank just like the people carrying them. Generally not peaceful, often not even very fun. The extroverts display small-talk prowess while the introverts mumble about weather.
Dinner parties and major holidays are knotted together as custom and tradition. I prefer small, quiet, familiar gatherings. I grouse when told she has gone outside the inner circle and invited neighbors to Thanksgiving dinner. Why summon the chaos? Why solicit the awkward how-do-you-do’s; and why – for certain – unveil the family drama to the uninitiated?
But she knows better; understands deeper. The neighbors have had a rough go. They need generous and welcoming friends. They need to be distracted from routine by the cyclone-struck carnival of our place and our chaos. My desire for comfort is trumped by their need for joy. They ring the bell at two.
We laugh and feast and uncover shared experiences. Hours evaporate into evening coffee and for those moments we’re all lost to a place I’m certain is just like Heaven – fun and loud and peaceful and satisfying. In this world, let us look to create those moments, for as John wrote, “…since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other.” (1 John 4:11). Even when we don’t want to.