My husband and I fell in love surrounded by community.
"Who is that guy over there who's, like, in LOVE with you?" an acquaintance asked and nodded her head across the room. She sounded annoyed or horrified or both.
I looked in that direction and there was Matthew, smiling at me. And maybe to that acquaintance's dismay or bafflement, I smiled back across that room full of people.
We were crammed in my one-bedroom, generic, apartment-complex living room. You know, the one with the galley kitchen that ends in a laminate bar-top looking out over the living/dining area. Everything carpeted in worn out beige. There were easily 25 of us: hanging out after a young-adult Bible study, an excuse to elongate a night, find some friends, to enjoy being together.
I think, oddly, there were root beer floats.
This gathering soon became (though the details fade in my mind), Monday Night Dinner (creative name, right?), and became the axis of my relationship with Matthew. He'd show up first, help me tidy my apartment (I thought I had him fooled with my straightened living room and wiped off counters, he later wrote me from Prague "I miss your apartment. The same Ann Taylor Loft price tag always on the bathroom floor by the toilet." Whoops.), watch me cook.
Most weeks, I'd send out an email Monday morning while my high schoolers journaled and listened to Death Cab for Cutie in my classroom. I'd tell everyone what I was cooking, and through reply all's we'd round out the meal. And even though it was a menu heavy on cheap wine and two-liters, there was always enough food for everyone. A miniature loaves and fishes.
We'd eat, share prayer requests, maybe discuss the Bible--I think for awhile we read a chapter in Luke each week.
Mostly, we just met to eat and share and commune.
After everyone left, the candles still burning and music playing, Matthew and I would sit on the couch and talk about the night, those conversations somehow still humming around us. I loved opening my little home to so many, I loved that feeling of a space so lived in, so life-full.
There's a lot to this story to me personally. I've cooked for people since high school, and though as a home-maker, house keeper, mother and wife I cook for my people often enough that it burns me out some days, I MISS the community we had.
It followed us to Charleston after we were married, Monday nights. But here in Greenville, mostly because we have children and are just finding our roots, that brimming community where I cook and share looks different.
We may have a couple over for a late Friday night supper, or a bonfire, but it does not have the same feel yet. My heart aches for that, an opportunity to cook and host and be a gathering place, and I wonder why I haven't found it yet. Sometimes I even suggest a meal, or a time of prayer, and get outright rejected.
So there's something here to explore, some holy sort of prodding I want to figure out and wrestle with, why my life's longing has hit on such a dry spot.
This rings a low-note, right? So does my soul, and so there's no need to apologize, but instead I'm making t
his my place to chart my course as I find my home.