We gathered at my sister’s place Sunday evening for a family dinner. Three of us preparing food and chilling bottles of wine while the rest of us arriving at intervals. My mom fussing with the taxi driver as she navigates her wheelchair onto the ramp and through the front door. My 88 year old father walking from next door through the wood chip pathway that links their father-daughter realities within 500 feet of one another. Young adults pulling up just as dinner is ready to be served. Dogs underfoot. Flowers arranged in mason jars on the oak farm table.
Stirring, plating, praying, jostling, eye rolling, drinking, pausing, scraping, sighing.
The chaos and comfort of being together.
And this Vincent Harding quoting James Balwin exchange kept circling my thoughts as we laughed and ate, each of us trying to recall what we should not in fact recite outloud, remembering to keep one another up to date on the daily goings on in our precious, suburban lives whilst holding back some of the more colorful commentaries we each might like to divulge.
We acheive ourselves as we make space for one another to share our stories, as incomplete and imperfect as they may be.
And we learn something about ourselves as we listen, and mingle our thoughts with their words. Or when we allow ourselves to be distracted as the stories unfold and our hearts cringe or feel heavy or hopefully, become a little softer. We learn about the biases we continue to wear and the insecurities we dress ourselves in, even amongst those who have seen us at our very worst.
And sometimes those fall away to deep, raw truths that shapes us in new, glorious and often painful but deeply re-aligning ways.
As I continue to discover how I am being shaped in and through those 4 hours last Sunday night, I am resolved to push Baldwin’s observations to the forefront of my interactions with people this week. I want to be present to the places where I am acheiving myself and how I can be fully alive to the possibility of offering that opportunity to others.
So what about you?
Where are the conversations taking place around you that are helping you achieve yourself? And what silenced voices not being heard need an invitation to a place at your table?