How do you define home? As stated in a lyric from one of my favorite musicals: “I was told every day in my childhood, even when we grow old ‘Home will be where the heart is.'” (Beauty and the Beast). While my parents’ house will always be home, I have learned that if you are really lucky, you can have more than one home.
Every week I try to get there early because it means a little extra time with Coralie and the kids before the larger group arrives. The front door is always unlocked and sounds are coming from inside where three boys play together. Usually the sounds are laughter, and crashing cars or light sabers. If there are any tears, they are because someone tripped over someone else, and a quick hug will make things all better and the game start again. This year two kittens have been added to the mix so balls of fur occasionally fly up or down the stairs depending on the boys’ game.
After stowing my jacket on a hook and slipping off my tennis shoes, I move into my corner of the kitchen. Our group has met for years in this house so I know my spot well. Behind me is a wall and to my left side are drawers that are rarely used. Since I have very very very few cooking skills (my Kraft Macaroni and Cheese is on point!), I will stand there in wonder of how Coralie turns the vegetables I see at Fred Meyer into the amazing meal 12 to 20 people will enjoy that night. A half-dozen different pots, pans, jars, and trays are always in motion. Sometimes I’m brave enough to stir something, but mostly I just watch.
This weekly feast for our community will have so many layers to it. As with any group of adults, there are different dietary needs including vegetarian, glutted-free, corn and pea allergies, dairy-free, and “I’m trying to make good choices…hey look a cookie”. So dinner is never just one dish. Its multiple options that can be added to one another to ensure everyone is fed and without needing an epipen or tums.
Not only are the food needs met, but so many colors and tastes are present in each meal. Back to those vegetables, I get to be awed by the rainbow that a plate of peppers, cucumbers, carrots, tomatoes, and onions creates. The loaves of bread, warmed in the oven, are golden brown while dark rich coffee percolates on the side. More shades of green than I can name are present in the salad bowl, along with a few more vegetables that again I am clueless how to cut, cook, or name.
I could go on an on about my favorite meal of the week, but the point really isn’t about the food. Its about the home that this food initiates each week. A group that may not see each other 164 hours in a week, starts a few precious hours together through a meal together and then laughter, crashing cars, flying balls of fur, prayers, questions, and safe space to be who we are and pursue who we are called to be.
#52sparks is my year-long writing series based on an art prompt challenge. The title is inspired by a quote from Star Wars: The Last Jedi: “We are the spark, that will light the fire that’ll burn the First Order down” (Poe Dameron). The spark that lights a fire to toast a marshmallow or to ravage a forest begins in the space of an inch. So just imagine what hundreds of inches and words can do.