It is not a beautiful time of year. Everything is dead. The wind blows. It rains, snows or sleets almost every day. It is cold riding in an open skiff on the ocean. But we had to go.
It began here:
Then a first-class seat on an Alaskan limousine in the village of Larsen Bay.
And a cold skiff ride in layers of fleece, poly prop, rain gear ..
Then into our capacious accommodations on our luxury yacht-----
Once there, we all got busy with our appointed tasks and foods, which included a little muscle,
a little sense of humor----when the ground slips beneath you and you Jack-and-Jill tumble down the hill with your buckets of water.
A lot of cooking . …
and making music . ..
and keeping warm . ..
And---while we're there---a little bit of hunting for the table . … and for the long winter ahead of us
All of this takes awhile . .. ..
And this is how we lived our thanks-----by working together.
And finally-----eating together.
And cleaning up together . ...
And what else can cap a perfect Thanksgiving but a rousing game of poker?
And all of it was perfect. The meals especially. Not because any of it was (though a lot of it was very good), but because we all worked hard for it. And because none of it belonged to us. Whatever was mine became yours became ours.
We often don’t live or work or cook this way. We want our food to be perfect, to impress. We are purists who want to do it all ourselves. We want to make everything from scratch. We want holiday meals to be solo performances: look what I made!! I remember, though, that “perfect” in the Scriptures often means “Finished,” “complete.” Jesus wasn’t that kind of purist. As I have written in *The Spirit of Food: 34 Writers on Feasting and Fasting Toward God,
"Even the Maker of the world did not make the bread he broke that final night. The grain was grown by a farmer down the road; the bread was made by someone he did not know; bought and carried by another up to a borrowed room. He laid his hands on someone else's bread, broke it an claimed it---this is my body--and passed it to waiting hands, to every hungry soul. And it was done. Their bread became his bread became ours---so many hands upon the bread until it was finished: the bread of his body for the hunger of the world."
In these special days, we have been pilgrims at a table so overflowing with salt and grace we think maybe
we are already there, in that city,
At the feast that is coming.
In that beautiful city made holy by its Lord and Light----
At that table made holy by His body and blood.
Will you be there? You must.
That city is unfinished,
that table incomplete
That table and that city is unfinished
If any one of us is missing.
We’re all wanted there.
We’re all needed there, every one.
Our place in the kitchen waits.
Our seat and our plate at the table with our names
is waiting there.
And I know already,
When we sit to sup on bread and meat and wine,
Passing baskets from hand to hand,
We will look around the table at each other,
messy with food,
we will look at our Savior
laughing and chewing like us,
And we'll say to one another, with our mouths full----
"Isn't it Perfect?"
Let the Season of Feasts begin now---for Always!!
*Friends, to deepen and gladden the season of feasting and giving, may I offer The Spirit of Food to you---at just above cost? (It won 4 "Best Book" awards. Includes essays by Ann Voskamp, Wendell Berry, many other brilliant + beautiful writers on food.) I'll send it to the first 10 requests at cost plus shipping ($17). ($28 on amazon). Within the U.S. only please. Email me here:firstname.lastname@example.org