The Table

Hey there, it's Maeve. I hope you've been enjoying this Advent series! I hope you have found ways that work for you to slow down, reflect & savor this season. It's so sweet when we do, right?  I wanted to share a piece I wrote for The Free Woman. The Free Woman is all about raw, real beauty and celebrating the unique stories within us. I really love the work they are doing. I feel so honored to share a bit of my heart on their blog and have the chance to write about one of my favorite themes - the power in gathering around the table. 


 

advent table

 When I was a little, I used to play restaurant.

I designed menus, created recipes (mainly involving cookies and pudding) and made lots of tea. I named my little space the Songbird Café. Whenever a babysitter came over I’d hand them a menu and take their order. The really fun ones would play along and take my order too.

Most of the time though, I waited on imaginary customers. I loved who came by and the stories that were told. I didn’t even mind when folks complained that their tea was cold.

In so many ways, the Songbird Café lives on – I still love feeding people. I still love gathering people in our home. Thankfully, now they are real.

And yet still, there are moments I feel this deep need to please and perform and perfect. I feel like it’s all a big show where I am juggling flaming torches and bouncing on one leg. Anyone else?

No one is asking me to perform, it’s this pressure I put on myself. We do this to ourselves a lot, yeah?

What I am learning through trial and error is this – the art of gathering, the essence of hospitality, is not so much the homemade crusty bread but the hands that meet to break it.

It’s not what covers the table but whose sitting around it.

That’s where the power lies.

That’s where the magic is friend.

Of course, a really good meal can make a heart flutter. But what we love even more is the connection.

What we crave is for a moment in this busy, beautiful, disorganized life there is meaning and purpose in the mess. And for a few hours you don’t feel completely alone. There is joy in rubbing elbows, sitting next to someone you barely know and choosing openness and familiarity – even when it’s terrifying. There is beauty in allowing our stories to unravel, finding that in so many ways they are alike, they are woven into each other.

Head on over to The Free Woman to read more...

lay our weapons down

IMG_3487 I promise I'll get back to the Advent series after this post. I intended to post one today but there is something pulsing in my veins to write.

Four words keep beating in my heart. Lay our weapons down. 

Friend, I'm not talking about gun control.

I am talking about a heart shift and movement.

Yesterday I cried three times. The first was at the gym, when I saw the headline and footage on the TV.

The second was while listening to a sermon podcast. The pastor kept talking about miracles and how they are real, how God is capable of them, but how sometimes it's going to cause us great pain.

I kept thinking - God, we could really use a miracle right now.

The third time was when I crawled into bed and began to pray. This Advent, prayer is at the forefront simply because it hasn't been in years past. And I believe in the power of prayer.

So I cried from the sheer terror of what happened, what keeps happening. But I also cried from our response, from my own response.

You see, as I perused online and read the comments [I keep saying I'll stop doing that] as I dug deep within my own heart, I saw name calling. I saw us vs them. I saw debates where words were thrown at each other like daggers.

All I saw were more bullets.

I saw more attacks, more shots at one another. More comments and statuses that made my stomach turn. My reaction to some of these made my own stomach turn.

I rarely saw remorse for what actually happened.

Truth is, when we read something that counteracts what we believe or value it can make us upset. I am not above this. I can become frazzled, frustrated and angry.

I've even felt the urge to retaliate and fight back, write outlandish, harsh things to make a point.

See that's the messy, broken human part of who I am.

As a lover of words, I know they aren't something to use lightly. Words are heavy and weight filled and sometimes rough. Words have the ability to uplift and encourage or tear a person apart.

It's why I pray before I hit publish. I'll never take this little space lightly.

And what a gift we've been granted to use words. What a simple, wild gift to be able to say things that have the capacity to change the directory of a persons day or life.

I'm not against heated discussion or conflict. I'm not against letting out some steam in the kitchen about what frustrates you among trusted family and friends.

I am against bullying.

And what I want so badly is a softened heart. I want a heart of understanding and encouragement. I want a heart of forgiveness and affirmation. I want a heart that loves my family and friends well. But even more, I want a heart that notices the pain and responds. And this starts with the small.

It starts in the homes and communities we live.

It starts in the grocery store checkout line and Target and your favorite little coffee shop. It starts with choosing grace when a server messes up our order three times.

It's a heart for opening doors, buying coffee for a stranger, noticing the quiet teenager with their eyes downcast and making a point to walk over and smile.

A heart that asks their neighbor if they need milk before heading to the store. A heart that asks again and again.

It starts with sharing your story with someone who has completely different viewpoints and beliefs. And sitting around long enough to hear their story too.

We must lay our weapons down.

You might be thinking - this is small, it's way too small. We've got big, HUGE problems to fix. This isn't big enough to tackle any of this.

And I hear you, on a day like yesterday, a tiny part of me might agree.

But the part of me that believes in miracles and the power of human connection has to disagree.

Because I have to believe the moment we start fixing our eyes on each other verse attacking what we think people believe - we create honest, loving relationships that thrive.

We create communities that don't leave anyone out. And the less people we leave out the less people feel alone.

It's a movement and heart shift. It's a choice I have to make every second of everyday. A choice that doesn't always come easy and one where I mess up a lot.

But I believe in a God who makes things new. A God who genuinely loves every single person on this planet.

A God whose saying, "Lay your weapons down."