Earth's crammed with heaven ~ and every common bush afire with God... E.B.B.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Potluck

One of our dear friends recently discovered he is in the late stages of cancers' merciless grip.  The news stunned us all – he who is so youthful, vigorous and full of life – his mischievous laugh resounding forever in our hearts…mention Chris and that sound echoes through everyone’s head with delight.  These men have been friends since grade school at St. Mary’s, adding one or two along the way, from high school and SEARCH weekends, and they have held on, through wild adventures and weddings, through kids and the daily pulls that eventually shape our lives in different directions.  Usually, it would be Bob as the master of planning; a ping pong gathering, a party, he’d remember a birthday or use anything as a cause to celebrate…this time he used cancer ---

“Does anyone recognize these fugitives?” his email read. And there it was, from days long gone – a shot of the boys gathered round a table, the easy fun so evident on their faces as they ham it up for the camera!

And so we gathered Saturday afternoon for a potluck…
Kevin and Kara hosted, in their wide open home so like their wide open hearts.  We brought appetizers and dessert, so arrived first.  We were standing in the kitchen when Mike and Linda arrived (we hadn’t seen him in ages)…my husband saw Mike peek his head in and thought, “There’s Mikes Dad!”, quickly realizing no…that’s Mike.  Needless to say, it was an eye-opening evening!
He and his son carried in the cooler as we laughed about the days we’d all lived together in a big house on the beach, Rog and I the only married couple, and all these guys.  Mike always had a cooler ready then, glad to spend an evening on the sand.

Joe and Cathy brought bread and oil, Joe loving bread as always, knowing our need to break bread together, the meaning lost to no one.  The hard swallow of eucharisteo  borne more easily in communion.
Bob (the self-designated Wine Swine) and Maura were welcomed with ready glasses and raucous laughter.  Chris and Michelle arrived with them.  Michelle with a huge salad, fresh and full of greens and fruit and nuts.  She always makes the best salads!

We chatted and munched a good long while, took a tour of the house (Kevin is an architect) while Kara prepared the main course, lovely salmon and couscous.
Then we sat down at table.  Six couples who’ve been long wed, wives brought together mostly by the friendships their husbands shared; and knit together through the years, grateful for such friendships in their lives and ours.  We feasted on a delicious meal and told stories that had us laughing and crying, whole table conversations with each one shouting in their bit of the story and quiet ‘one on ones’ as we lingered on.  I brought out the dessert – pies – and as I sat down next to Mike he shared how his mom had been the pie maker at a local restaurant when he was small; how he loved pies (real pies…good pies).  My mom had been a pie maker too; daily heading out to the Wagon Wheel.  The weave of life and grace in our life a common thread knotted there…

Bob made toasts (he is a most excellent wine swine) and we took a group shot for posterity.  We all ended up in the kitchen, having the quiet  conversation with Chris and Michelle that had brought us all there, sharing love and hope, the hard facts of life softened with tears and gratitude and faith strong enough to hold us all.
It took us hours more to say goodbye…

In the days following, each has sent out an email of thanks to the group.  I sat down to write ours, and thought of asking for Kara’s recipe – the meal had been so good, I thought I might serve it Christmas eve.  But I had watched her prepare it, simple enough, and slide it in the oven.  Then I realized…

The meal was not prepared in any special way for us…we were prepared in a special way for the meal.  Apart, we were stunned and troubled…together we relaxed and remembered… in good company with good stories and our good God to see us through.  Because of that we celebrated, and life was the feast!  Simcha!

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