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A Toast For You

One of my favorite parts of a meal is the toast – formal or informal, clinking thin wine glasses together or touching two pieces of takeout pizza over a picnic on the living room floor.  Words spoken over a gathering of people is totally my jam.

For the longest time, a group of girls gathered around my kitchen table and I’d pour hot tea into their colorful mugs.  After they warmed their hands and watched the steam twist and float into the air, I’d raise my mug and say, “To the boy who lived.” (Not ashamed to love Harry Potter this much).  We’d clink our mugs together like we weren’t in sweatpants and house slippers, but instead hobbits at the pub waiting to go on the next inevitable adventure.  Those words transformed our storytelling into sacred space, and we’d enter into the discipline of participating in each other’s lives, listening and laughing and interrupting to ask too many questions.

Lately, I haven’t had any words.  I’ve been consumed by the state of our world and have only had words for prayer and my journal, but I long for the type of words that transform a place, that help shape a season.

Words are gifts, both given and received, thought out and too hastily delivered.  Each day we have the power of our words, something that no one can take away from us.  And lately, as my heart has hungered for words (from scripture, fiction, music, friends, letters), they’ve showed up in the oddest places and actions.

Just the other evening, I was out to dinner with two friends and the conversation was encouraging and challenging, filled with all the questions we’ve been asking ourselves about the world (my favorite blend of dinner conversation).  Just as the waitress was clearing our plates, the topic turned to our younger selves and things we did that we now consider mortifyingly hilarious.  At the top of our list was writing letters to our future husbands (something evangelical culture encouraged us to do in the name of purity in our teenage years).  We all found this horrifying because it captured us in a very specific time of life, trying to imagine the complexity of marriage while using a teenager’s vocabulary.

I’m not exactly sure how the next part happened, but I believe Lindsay accused Kayla of carrying said letters with her, and Kayla, eyes wide with excitement, pulled three small envelopes from her purse.

A miracle had just happened.

Kayla was actually carrying around letters to her future husband written six years prior.

“I was looking for envelopes the other day,” Kayla said, as Lindsay and I couldn’t breathe as we leaned into each other from laughing too hard, “and I found THESE IN THE BOX.”

And then, right before our eyes, in a crowded restaurant on a Saturday night, Kayla slid her finger under the envelope seal and said, “I think we should open these.”

It was this moment that I felt right for the first time since the election.  A friend’s willingness to share pieces of her younger heart in a weird church tradition was exactly what I needed to be put back together.  As she opened and read those letters (which could easily have been my letters or any of my high school friends’ letters) our time was magically set apart.  Something sacred had happened, and I felt the gratitude rush in as I experienced those letters read out loud.  It was if she toasted our evening and proclaimed our time together worthy by sharing such a gift.

I’m certainly not suggesting that the answer to every problem is dinner shared with friends, but I am suggesting that community is definitely a good start.  The kind that happens away from computers and phones.  This is the kind of thing that helps put me back together so I can better help others to do the same.

Life around the table will always, for me, be the toasts of life – the setting apart of time to share words from our hearts and minds.  I’m the one sitting on the edge of my seat, eagerly hoping for wisdom and truth and your experience, because I certainly don’t have all the answers.

And, if we were together right now, having a living room picnic around my coffee table or in fancy dresses with sparkly champagne, I’d pick up whatever glass is nearest and say,

“Here’s to you and your Thanksgiving travel plans and the green bean casserole you’re cooking.  Here’s to unplanned hours and time to be put back together.  Here’s to awkward conversation and the choice to respond graciously, but even more so, here’s to moments that fill our hearts and remind us how to be good to one another.  Here’s to loving even when we don’t feel like it and receiving grace in the oddest places.  Here’s to remembering that most of the time, someone’s waiting for our words.”

 

 



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