I used to have two clutch questions I’d ask kids after we got back from a week at Young Life camp. Sitting over an iced white chocolate americano with room, I’d first ask them this: think back about our week – describe to me your perfect snapshot moment of a memory. [I know, total former English teacher move; quick, the five senses!]. And what a perfect picture their mind would paint! Then I’d look them in the eyes and ask them this: how are you different now than when you got on the bus two weeks ago? I’m asking those same “camp” questions with Shauna Niequist’s new book, Bread & Wine, both today and tomorrow. So without further adieu, Bread & Wine, part I: Describing that perfect, snapshot of a moment.
It was Saturday night, the 23rd, and I was sitting on the couch with my friend Alan. I used to call him Old Man Alan, but eventually dropped that as he became a little too heart-endearing to render the “Old Man” preface. We wove in and out of conversation, talking about his upcoming retirement alongside Cancan’s new skill of crawling to the most electrical wire filled of corners and grabbing – grabbing, grabbing, grabbing anything and everything he can get his sticky little fingers on.
Wayman Tisdale – the HBH’s favorite party station – played a funky groove in the background, and as I looked to my right and to my left, in front of me and across the room (because, really, there’s not much farther you can look in a San Francisco-sized space), I saw our cheerleaders.
I saw the friends from our life in the city today…
And I saw the hubs deep in conversation and laughter alike with some of my dearest from the years spent in Santa Cruz:
I saw Neighbor Mark his partner, Steve, and the cousins, and the other part of my family, those non-blood relatives who live on the Peninsula, the Jeannies and the Brittanys of this world. I saw my Lectio ladies, whom I meet with once a month to do life together and eat yummy vegan and dairy-free food, and then in Terry’s front room, sit on and in and truly feel a passage of Scripture.
And the food that night was plentiful: bacon-wrapped dates and macaroni bites, and chips and guac, and crackers and cheese – lots and lots of cheese – while Bartender Laura poured the three drinks of choice.
And at that moment, I felt so, so loved. I felt loved and celebrated and cheered on in the best way possible.
I thought about Shauna’s book, how, at the center of it, we have to be willing to let people in to our imperfect, messy lives.
It didn’t matter that the floorboards held a little too many spit-up stains, and that we made the macaroni bites with pasta that was just a little too long (so they ended up looking more like spiral bird nest bites).
I’d wanted to weed the front yard and hoped that the landlord would paint the front of the house, because it was beginning to look at a little shabby, and, and… but neither happened, and really, that too didn’t matter.
I was on my third “cocktail” dress of the evening because I hadn’t bothered to see if my breastfeeding upper body still fit into the bridesmaid dresses I wore for Anna and Re’s weddings almost 10 years ago. But you know what? That too didn’t matter. In fact, no one cared that my body is oh, you know, just a wee bit curvier than it used to be.
What mattered is that we entered into the evening together, and we celebrated life and friendships, birthdays and a masters’ graduation, with food and drink and merriment alike.
We ate the bread and we drank the wine, and it was good.
And when the cousins brought out a lemon square each for the birthday man and the birthday woman, we blew out the candles with gusto, and sang along with our friends in the best of birthday songs.
This night, this snapshot, is my moment captured – and this too is what Shauna does best as well, capturing the moment found in meals shared around the table. And true to her own heart, a recipe follows each moment’s essence (and then makes its way to our own cocktail party, bacon-wrapped dates changing lives one mouthful at a time).
So, are you ready? Want to win a copy? I’ll mail it directly to you from Amazon – contest open from 9 am – 9 pm tonite (Thursday).
Simply leave a comment below: what was your favorite “moment” this past week? (And DO follow be, mama. be on Facebook and/or by entering your email address to the left if you haven’t already – thanks!)
Update: Congrats DEBBIE! You won today’s book drawing – message me your address, and I’ll send it to you via Amazon! As per the rest of you, check in tomorrow for Bread & Wine, Part II + one more book drawing!