Monday, November 1, 2010

a flash.

Last weekend, I remembered I was supposed to host a girls’ night at my house. When I’d volunteered a few weeks ago, I’d just decorated my house for fall, and I figured I might as well share the décor with a few close friends. Then Saturday rolled around, and my life had been such a chaotic mess I’d forgotten all about girls’ night. I had two options: cancel, or throw together a quick get-together in time for Tuesday night. I bet you can pick which one I chose.

Two of us cooked our favorite soups (I made this delicious taco soup, thanks to my cousin’s recipe); one girl brought bread and crackers, another drinks, and another dessert. I set my table and made sure my kitchen was clean, but that’s about it. I didn’t even vacuum. A clean house, I think, is important for sanity, but I never want to be one of those people whose home has to be perfect before anyone can even come in the doors. That’s just not who I’d like to be known as: Annie with her perfect house and her perfect life. Blech. No thanks.

Instead, my house is me. Us. And I’d like to think that any of my friends would feel comfortable stopping by at any given moment… and I wouldn’t tell them no.

But I digress.

So Tuesday rolled around, and my nose was a little stuffy, and I had a hangover from midterms and a couple of late nights and I was thinking maybe this was a bad idea. But then I stepped inside my house and it smelled like soup and fall and warmth, and my doorbell rang, and my friends came inside, and I knew.

This is it.

This is what Christianity really looks like. Not rules and regulations and boring sermons and checklists, but

Friends and food and talking and sharing and opening up your home and lighting candles and giggling and confessing and kicking off your shoes and playing music and eating brownies off paper plates.

I am, by nature, I think, a quiet person. (Some of you are laughing right now, but I promise it’s true.) Friends don’t come easily to me, and the real world has made true friendship an even more difficult commodity to acquire. For a while, I thought all my friends would just be the ones I met in college, the ones who, for that period in time, were as close to me as family. The ones I lived with and ate with and communed with and prayed with and sang with and roadtripped with.

Those friendships are still special to me. I have a feeling that some of them always will be.

But in the years since graduation, I have come into my own, and I have made friends. Good ones.

And Tuesday, as we sat and ate and laughed and planned Halloween and New Year’s and birthdays, I had this one flash of a moment.

It was the kind I know is a gift because while the moments happen daily, the realizations of the moments happen rarely. The grace and the goodness greet us from almost every corner of our lives, but we don’t recognize them or see them or acknowledge them.

But when I looked around my table and saw the empty bowls of stew and the bread crumbs and the half-eaten brownies, and as I listened to the laughter over stray dogs and sick husbands and monotonous work days, I knew.

This was grace and goodness not just sidling up to say hello, but slapping me in the face and giving me an impassioned wake up call.

To be curled up in your favorite jeans with people who are different from you, but who love you, who want to be with you. Who laugh at your imperfections and your quirks and who choose to come to your house and eat your food and compliment your pictures and clean your dishes and say they had a good time and know they meant it.

As I watched girls say their goodbyes outside and Jordan came downstairs to help me clean up, I was so grateful that even with a stuffy nose and a busy schedule and maybe timing that was less-than-perfect, I’d been allowed that flash, that moment of something more than I can explain.

Because I think — and I hope I’m not coming across as sacrilegious here — I think those moments are our closest glimpses at heaven.

I think it will be long tables and good food and meaningful conversation and lots and lots and lots of laughter.

Basically, a lot like my Tuesday.


Elizabeth said...

Hi Annie!

I have been lurking on your blog for some time now, but this post really lit a fire under my you-know-what and I just had to post. Your writing is truly beautiful and the topic really resonates with me. I entertain friends and family (which are really one in the same to me) quite often, and really am most happy and most at peace when in the midst of the chaos that is dirty dishes, crowded living rooms, and laughter that flows out into the yard. Your comment that this is what you picture heaven to be really struck a chord, and in fact made my day. Have a beautiful week!

Jennifer Crow said...

So glad you made the soup! Even more glad you liked it!! Love you!

mom said...

So thankful you have learned the gift of hospitality! It is truly a gift. Not just what you are giving those invited into your home; but the gift you receive yourself in seeing the delight others have being comfortable in your home! It's never about perfection; but, rather the imperfections that make life so entertaining! A home filled with laughter is a home you remember when you are all grown up! I love you!!!

Heather at Blessed Little Nest said...

another beautifully written post! being able to feel that peace that the Lord offers us is what it is all about.

paula said...

now this sounds like a perfect way to spend an evening.

jenna said...

Amen to that, my dear sister!
I love when God widens my vision just enough to get a glimpse of the true weight of glory taking place around me. :) Love you!

Velva said...

There is no better way to sustain or create bonds with people than the grace of sharing a meal. Keep your door open, and always have room for one more at the table.

Cheers to you Annie.

Four Flights said...

I call those moments of clarity. When for a flash, everything just makes sense, and all those things that you were worrying about are still there, but you understand them and their importance and relevance in your life, and you appreciate all the blessings that God has provided us with. I love those moments. They are often far and fleeting, but oh so wonderful and special.

Joyeful said...

Love this!! I love that you call it our closest glimpses at heaven, because it's so true! God created us for relationship. When God created Adam and then said it wasn't good for man to be alone and created woman, I'm always amazed at the magnitude of that statement. I mean, Adam was walking with God, what else could he need?! God recognized our need for relationships. And said it was good. wow.

Love the way you write! You can come visit me in my messy house any time :)