Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Fellowship and Food

Forks in our left hand, knives in our right.  The occasional scrape of metal to the plate is overridden by the chatter and chewing.  Diminishing food parallels the filling stomachs.  Hearts are happy.  Bellies full. 

I recently heard a sermon on fellowship, and the distinction behind the meaning.  It was compared to the relationship families have when getting together after a long period of time.  Stories are shared, there may be laughter or tears – sometimes both - and food is often a main component.  It is a time of listening and a time for showing love to the ones we care about most.  As brothers and sisters of Christ, our time of fellowship is a time of family members coming together, to share, to listen, and to break bread. 

Staying in a hostel in the middle of nowhere Wales, I don’t know the name of the person sitting to my right, but by the end of dinner I will know that he lives in London, tutors adult students in English, used to live in Bermuda running a luxury resort, and has a sister that graduated from Wittenberg University.  The woman diagonal to me lives in Slovakia, has a daughter that waitressed in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, visits Canada regularly, and thoroughly enjoys British custard.  We’ve all traveled from different places, carry different stories and experiences, and we will part again soon. 

But for tonight, our paths have crossed.  And as storytellers, aren’t we all just looking for someone to listen?  Sitting around a full table where each individual does not know the other creates a unique and vulnerable situation.  But I can only smile as my heart now understands the beauty of fellowship and the creation of old family members reuniting, if only for a meal.  

Making Mistakes

They’ve only made their first step out from the giant doors marked *Exit Only* at the Heathrow airport, and I want to cover them in bubble wrap and create a giant force field bubble surrounding their entire being.  

Yes, I am the worrier in the family, but it has taken me 3 arrivals now to figure out why I am so nervous waiting at the international arrival gate for a loved one to arrive. 

No, I don’t think for a second they are stepping into peril danger.  It’s just that almost everything I have learned about living in British culture, I have learned from making a mistake, and some part inside of me wants to shield them from this process of learning.      

A Few Points in Case:

I learned to not buy food in bulk after my bread started to mold after 3 days.

I learned to only stand on the right side of the escalator after being almost plowed down by a hurried Londoner.

I learned about the importance of setting a specific time into google maps when planning a journey, after I left out this step and was stuck on a bus an hour longer than expected during peak travel time.

I learned to call pants “trousers” after I told a child I liked his pants and was told I just said I liked his underwear.

All of these little mistakes were my daily routine back in August and September (and October and November…); my days would be filled with the attempt to live the “normal” lifestyle while correcting and learning from the countless mistakes I made from a different cultural perspective.  So maybe part of me wanted my loved ones to not have to make these mistakes while I guided them through London, and another part wanted them to see me as the “expert”.

Both are pretty selfish I would say. 

These mistakes gave me the opportunity to learn about the differences in culture.  I was allowed the opportunity to grow in understanding and be able to reflect upon the importance of the cultures deeply rooted into our unconscious minds.  To try and protect anyone from learning about culture would be denying them an invaluable experience of infinite learning. 

As a perfectionist, I never thought I would be giving thanks for the mistakes I’ve made thus far, but I am learning this year about the beauty of accepting ourselves as broken, messy, wonderful creations of God.

Cheers to the mistakes we’ve made, and hope of many more to come.