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...

my cup of tea

In any given day, the word might fall from my lips nearly a dozen or more times. It's the word I use to describe the best parts of my day, when everything sort of stands still and suddenly there is light, amidst all the darkness in this world // suddenly hope is restored.

It's something I pray to be better at, each and every day, because it makes my heart so full and giddy, I could just burst.

It's something that requires showing up, even when I am tired or cranky, something that begs me to let go of perfection.

It's my grandma and a cup of tea.

It's hospitality.

In all honesty, when I am not delighting in it, making room for it, I feel sort of lost and incomplete.  Like maybe I'm missing something, like maybe God is aching to use me and I'm too busy to notice.

Hospitality.

I love everything about this word.  I love how it sounds and what it stands for.

I love how it moves you to act and love with all you have, even on the days you'd rather shut the door and be anything but welcoming.

But for a word I use so often, sometimes I have to stop and remind myself what it all means.  I have to recognize why it matters; why it makes my heart beat so fast.

Because you see, sometimes I confuse hospitality with entertaining. I start to believe hospitality is inviting folks into your home, only when it's really clean and you've made a home-cooked meal, all bits and bites from scratch.

I think it means never ceasing, never taking a seat or breath.

I think it means convenience, like it only shows up you're ready, when you've planned for it // when you've showered.

Though when I think about what it really is, the truth and depth and essence of it, it isn't any of those things.

Hospitality is sacrifice, connection and vulnerability.

It's meeting a need.

Sometimes that need is so matter of fact: hunger.  You are feeding someone that is hungry.  And gosh, that is such a beautiful thing.

But then there are the times it's more, when food has nothing to do with it, when a frozen pizza or carry-out is curing loneliness or heartache or fear.

It means inviting folks in to your mess and wreckage and clutter and refusing to apologize for any of it, so someone can open up, share what is on their heart, the parts that aren't pretty or neat, because you were brave enough to do the same.

Hospitality says come in and sit with me, the invited and the forgotten alike.

Hospitality asks us to abandon our ever-growing, ever burdening to-do list and simply be in the presence of another person, because it's what we were made for.

It asks us to put our phones away and listen.

Hospitality says you're important to me, right here in this moment and all those other things I should be doing, could be doing, don't always need to be doing, can just wait.

Who in your life does this and does it well?  Thank them.  Who in your life needs it?  Welcome them.

Life is busy, I know.  We have schedules and deadlines and commitments. Though when we treat hospitality as an act of filling all these little cups, meeting everyones needs, we fall short and feel weak.

every. single. time.

Instead, let us empty ourselves to others.  And run, full force to His throne to be fed again.

We were never meant to do it on our own.

I have to believe, each one of us aches to connect and be in community more. Each one of us can feel like the burdens are too heavy to carry on our own.

I want to make more space for true hospitality.

More connection and honesty and prayer.  More, "I hear you friend, you are not alone in this."  More celebrating the small things, that turn out to be really big things.

More opening my door, even when it's messy and all I might have to share is a can of soup, because grocery shopping just didn't happen this week.

More asking for help, when I might really want to host but just don't have the energy or time to do so.  Potluck anyone?

More stillness, less distractions, and pouring myself a big ol' cup of tea at my table with you.