I was sweating. All the windows were open and the fans were on, but I was still as hot as I could be. The stove was cranked to the max and I was urging the second pot to come to a boil. ‘Did I read the recipe correctly? Is there something I had left out?’ I asked myself my mental checklist questions. I scanned the kitchen: the salads were topped, the bread was cut, the snacks were out. But something had vanished.
Just a few moments before the room had been bustling. People were laughing and asking what they could do to help. The refrigerator and cupboards were opened and closed again as each item taken out found its spot. The air had been heavy with the sound of chatter. But now everything was quiet and the kitchen was empty but for me and the meal. Finally, both were ready.
I turned the corner into the living room to invite everyone to come to eat and was struck by what I saw. I won’t soon forget that scene.
Eighteen adults were crowded onto two couches, a recliner, and a love seat. Their bodies were crammed into the small spaces while their arms rested on, under, and around each other. For some, their legs fought to keep their balance, and for others their legs did their best to stay out of anyone else’s way. Their eyes were fixed on Carolyn and their minds were fixed on the events of their first day in Palestine. Coming from their hearts was a seemingly palpable spirit of comfort and joy, of love and compassion. But what struck me most of all was the familiarity of their faces. They were the faces of my friends, the faces of my church family, the faces of my supporters and the faces of my encouragers. And these faces were lighting up my living room.
I took a moment to take it in and to seal the image in my mind and in my heart. And then I took my place with them, with “my people.” I scooted in and squished myself between, happy and finally at home in the midst of them.