A idea came to me for simple Hors d’oeuvres needed for a pre-dinner gathering.
Peel a cucumber leaving strips of darker green. Add a dollop of hummus. Slice a cherry tomato in half and place it on top. It was a big hit. These were all gone even before we got into the line to eat. It’s a happy moment when your food goes.
We had come for a mystery dinner. We didn’t know where we were going or with whom we’d be dining. We all gathered together, many of us–more than 50–in the church basement. I had just gotten done reading a chapter in a book about the “irregular people” that God calls us to serve. I feel comfortable around “irregular people,” making me one of them. I eyed the woman with a white cane fingering the soft cheese log. “Did you need any help?” I asked. She did. She continued to “look” at the cheese log with her fingers as I cringed and didn’t at the same time. I didn’ care, but it set of a symphony if criticisms in my head that i had gathered about things i wasn’t supposed to do.
“Did you want some of that?” She wasn’t certain what it was, nor could she find the cute little knife that was set on the side to take a portion. We went through the rest of the line, me feeling slightly inadequate in describing some of the tasty morsels, not knowing what they were or what they were made of. I had a sense of gratitude that I was useful in these five minutes of time. The paradox of giving–receiving. Instant Karma.
The goal of the night was to meet some new people. People are interesting. There are so many stories. These are a couple stories I heard at the large group cocktail hour. D was actually an introvert. He put on his jacket and assumed the role of extrovert, but without it–sort of shy. B once spent the night accidentally locked in a sanatorium and helped to save a woman who thought she was a butterfly. She was trying to recruit him to fly out of the window with her.
Eventually we all headed our separate ways to dinner. Tom and I got into our car. I punched in only the four digit house number for our destination and the exact address popped up on Google Maps in first position. What were the odds of that? We were heading twenty-five miles across town to St. Paul. Weren’t there any homes closer with the same house number? As we drove across town I asked Tom, “Do you think there are any other people on this road going to dinner in a home with a group of people they have never met?”
Open to a sense of adventure, this is who we met: H had gotten hearing aides for the first time and now could hear the crinkling of the napkin as his wife picked it up off of the table, his footsteps as he walked barefooted across the hardwood floor, and himself chew–which was the hardest thing of all to get used to. L was a travel guide and thought Costa Rica was the best place to go on vacation in January. D, who hovered somewhere between 85 and 90, thought at one time in his life, he could not afford NOT to move to a small town in MN in spite of his new wife’s protests. L had the first electric washing machine in that same town and invited all of the women over to watch it work. F believed the movie she had just watched was not the “original” X-Men as her brother claimed. S would rather live a shorter life than to live without cheese cake. P, who made the dinner, attempted to gather up his chinchilla so I could hold and pet it.
And then there was C, a theology professor. She said one simple sentence that I needed to find my way home again. God is BIG and doesn’t fit into a box. It stemmed from something I told her that I was struggling with–that my way was not their way and their way didn’t call to me.
God doesn’t require a specific formula to know Him. God is bigger. God is bigger than the arms of others that never reach far enough to touch you. Bigger than those who never say the words you long to hear. So I come as I am, as I always have–for a long time–in deep, personal relationship with the one who pulled up the address in my GPS. I had remembered my “home” in the home of a stranger. God is big.
It’s a beautiful world! Can you guess who’s coming to dinner?
image credit: borevagen flickr