Family Dinner

We were getting ready to celebrate our son Joseph’s 15th birthday with his favorite selection for dinner: my home-cooked bacon risotto. As soon as my in-laws arrived, it would be time to eat.

What I hadn’t planned on? The Comcast guys.

Yes, I knew my husband had made an appointment to change internet services that day; what I didn’t know was that it would take so long.

When Nana and Papa arrived—their presence made known to us by Griffin and Jeremiah barking at the front door—the installers were still working away. Then they informed us they would be even longer—an additional part they needed wasn’t in their truck, so their supervisor had dispatched another technician to deliver it. 

Miguel and Pablo would just have to wait.

“Would you mind, Mrs. Klein, if we just sat on your front porch instead of in our truck? It’s such a nice evening.”

That’s when I thought, We can do lots better than that, guys.

And I set two more places for dinner.

Dinner. Family dinner. Birthday family dinner with grandparents and singing and candles and gifts.

Go ahead. Call me crazy. But that night, Miguel and Pablo became part of the family.

My husband often blames my over-the-top hospitable nature and sharing all that is ours on my parents. Dad cooked an Italian feast fit for an army every Sunday—”You never know who might need to eat!” And more times than I can count, we had friends, family, and would-be strangers using our house as their “just outside of New York City” hotel.

Sharing life was a way of life. And it has stuck.

Let me put it this way: I had plenty of risotto, I can’t stand leaving people out, and doing life with others is the best way to do it.

Recognizing any of that is a huge gift of grace.

I’ve had friends tell me they’re too afraid to “do what you do,” questioning my judgment, sanity, and compassion:

Really? Share moments like that?
How can you trust everyone?
Aren’t you afraid?

About a thousand years ago, Christian theologian Thomas Aquinas wrote, “Fear is such a powerful emotion for humans that when we allow it to take us over, it drives compassion right out of our hearts.”

What keeps you from sharing?

Is fear of some kind even a small part of that?

If it is, I challenge you to think about Aquinas’ words and not allow fear to overcome you. The most frequent command in the Bible is, “Do not be afraid.” With regard to sharing your life, I pray you’ll not be afraid. I pray you’ll grow in courage and compassion and experience for yourself the blessing of opening up your life and holding hands with perfect strangers as you pray before dinner.

Pamela Klein
Editor On Q

Surely—especially in the backlash of horrific events around the world—the “rubber-meeting-the-road-concept-of-sharing” has implications far beyond birthday dinners with some Comcast guys. But that good night, along with so many other experiences like it during the course of my life, has planted a seed about sharing life with even strangers, deep within me. Like many Americans, I’m personally thinking lots right now about the challenges connected with sowing the welcoming seed for Syrian refugees within our borders. For some good thoughts on this challenging aspect of sharing the freedom given us, read Trevin Wax’s article in the Washington Post. And, as always, we look forward to hearing your thoughts, too, as you endeavor to share your life.

This article has 2 comments

  1. jenn in GA

    this happens to me sometimes. i’ve come to identify it as a whisper, thanks to Bill Hybels and his book, The Power of a Whisper. it happened last night. i was driving home and saw the man who had been selling rugs and paintings on velvet on the small patch of grass in front of the gas station. he was packing up his goods and i had a container of hot soup from my friend Molly right next to me on the seat.

    i went home and poured half the soup into a mason jar, packaged a brownie, and put it all in a little bag and took it back to him. when i told him i’d noticed him and that i’d thought he’d like a meal, he told me he was vegan so he probably couldn’t eat what i’d brought. he was right; the soup had ham in it, but he wouldn’t even take the vegan brownie. he thanked me for the thought and i took my sack dinner offering and went home.

    i tell this story because not every time you extend the offer will the person take you up on it. that’s not the point. the point is to be obedient.

  2. Kim

    That is so absolutely awesome! I have a cousin who greets everyone who comes through her door with a warm welcome and a cup of coffee! A long time ago I decided that I wanted to be just as welcoming! But this, Klein family, is a whole different level!

    Thankful for you!