I had looked forward to it all week. Family members, my women, would be together in our home for a meal. The simple menu met dietary restrictions and individual preferences while allowing time for me to visit with the girls. It had been a full, busy week and I didn’t want to be bogged down in the kitchen.
I was relieved when my sister Martha arrived early enough to prepare the jalapenos for the poppers since I am hypersensitive to them – even handling them in the store leaves me with burning skin but my daughter loves jalapeno poppers and they were perfect for our casual supper. Once the seeds and ribs are removed I can handle them without much distress and I love the flavor they add to so many of my favorites. As she was removing the ribs and seeds we both began gasping and coughing. It was good to finish that task and have the air clear by the time the girls returned from a shopping trip.
It was pure joy to see these women I love around my table, to hear them laugh and catch up. In fact, I was so caught up in the fun I didn’t notice that the pot of shrimp was foaming up and boiling over. I quickly reacted to the spewing mess and decided it was time to serve.
Surveying the choices of serving dishes and appetizer plates in the cupboard, I recognized a familiar discontent building. Nothing there was nice enough and barely adequate; a quick glance back at the table and I realized that I hadn’t really planned the table setting or meal presentation. Why hadn’t I given more thought to this? Anxiety rose up as I internally chastised myself.
I looked over my shoulder at the girls. They were seated around my bare table, sipping drinks and chatting happily.
I was on the verge of missing it. Even as joy was filling the room, the nagging notion that this simple supper wasn’t enough was on the verge of choking it right out of my heart. Thankfully, I turned again to the faces of the women around the table, women I love, and I remembered that this exact scene would never again happen. There will be other times, I’m sure; other meals around other tables, in other places. But this present moment was too precious to miss.
As I took down a few perfectly adequate plates and began setting them on the table in front of these people I love, I recalled this verse:
Better a small serving of vegetables with love than a fattened calf with hatred.
Proverbs 11:25 NIV
I’m almost certain no one gave a second thought to the serving dishes as they peeled St. Augustine shrimp and ate jalapeno poppers. In the midst of the laughter and love and talk of family trees I doubt they even noticed.