A couple of years ago, I felt this really deep need to meet new people.
You know that feeling when you meet someone and platonic sparks begin to fly? I feel that often, but usually in the most inconvenient places, such as inside doctor's offices or at wedding receptions. It has happened so many times: I meet someone, we laugh at one another's jokes, we share some life advice, and then....whatever event we're attending concludes and we say our goodbyes.
That always bugged me. Especially as I've grown older, because I've really needed that sense of community. I've always been close with my family, but I knew that I needed to expand my relational horizons.
So I decided to grab some tables, a couple boxes of frozen lasagna, a handful of musicians and host "an event." I wasn't sure what I was doing, but I trusted my instincts. While the initial event wasn't perfect (mid-June = the mosquito population was insane) and some of the food didn't really come out right (definitely burned all of the Brussels sprouts) over the course of the evening, this particular sort of emotion permeated the event. It was that feeling you get after Thanksgiving, when everyone is lounging around and the world feels small, good, and still.
Even though the food and decor weren't great, I realized folks just wanted a place to sit down and connect with those seated next to them. So in that sense, that first night was a rousing success and I barely knew what I was doing. Ha!
Fast forward a few years and our team hosted a handful of wonderful gatherings throughout the city. Those nights are coveted memories of mine because I believe that gathering people around a table is sacred - you're feeding the body and also in many ways, you're feeding the heart and soul, too. So when we went on hiatus early last year, it was really difficult and I wondered if I was supposed to let this dream of mine go. Maybe it wasn't the right time? Maybe I wasn't the right person? Lots of big, intimidating questions.
But, guys, I'd literally wake up at night and think about those nights setting up for events. For whatever reason, hosting folks settles something restless in my nature and I feel the most alive when I'm creating unique environments where people can connect. That is my jam! The plan has always been to do three or four events throughout the year, but it can be difficult to "keep the ball rolling." Those past events were far from train-wrecks, but fear always presents new potential disasters and I've been having a hard time pushing past all of that. Who hasn't been there? But I feel this is the right time. Blah, blah, blah. I'm rambling, so I'll close.
I believe that community and creativity go hand-in-hand and I believe these dinners are part of my purpose. Maybe they won't always be, but right now they are and I don't think that will change for quite a while. Looking back, I've always tried to make the people around me feel known and loved....maybe this is a way to do that on a larger scale? Just some food for thought.
*photo by Liz Brown a.k.a the best of the best and a great visual storyteller.