What's one of the most lavish meals you've ever experienced?

An amazing breakfast - smoked salmon and eggs on Irish toast with freshly-squeezed orange juice and homemade scones - at our splurge hotel in Ireland (Cliff House Hotel, Ardmore, Co. Waterford)

An amazing breakfast - smoked salmon and eggs on Irish toast with freshly-squeezed orange juice and homemade scones - at our splurge hotel in Ireland (Cliff House Hotel, Ardmore, Co. Waterford)

I'm thinking about feasting this week.  You too?  Probably the fall, and the anticipation for festive get-togethers around the calendar corner.  

I'm thinking about feasting because in a few days I have an essay going out into the world at one of my favorite sites.  A place that values feasting and hospitality and the sacramental life.  (I can't wait to share the story of me and my new curmudgeon monk friend in a couple of days!)

I'm thinking about feasting because I stumbled on a gorgeous television series that makes a cinematic artform out of food preparation.  I have never (and maybe will never this side of Heaven) be able to afford the lavishness of the feasts these genius chefs create.  For now, I'm completely satisfied to imagine the taste and smell through the skillfully directed camera lens.

Chef's Table reminds me of another favorite reality foodie show our friends Shaun and Katie introduced to us last year.  I'm not a foodie and have barely ever travelled out of the U.S. and still found myself weeping during some of these food and culture stories.  Also: Phil Rosenthal is a precious man, don't you think?

The conversations about feasting always remind me of my favorite foodie movie of all time.  You want to talk about the reality of the Gospel found in food?  Watch this movie and give thanks.

I was talking with a dear new friend yesterday, and told her my conversation starter for the week.  She told me a sweet, sweet story of a meal she and her husband enjoyed with friends in a fabulous NYC restaurant just before having children.  She joked that sometimes we get a bit super spiritual answering these sorts of questions.  When I asked if she'd reply with her story when I posted the question on the Facebook page, she teased that she'd probably give the "spiritual" answer which, obviously, involves the Eucharist.  I haven't laughed that hard in a long time.

Fair enough:  let's keep clear that our so-called spiritual and secular lives are a seamless garment. After all, that's the whole point behind the term "sacramental life".  Ordinary, visible things making plain the invisible graces carrying us through the present world.  

Which reminds me of something my friend Laurel commented on the Facebook page yesterday.  She mentioned some good feasting memories that were a lot about the quality of the food.  Then she mentioned a memory where the food was only a side dish to the unforgettable scenery.

 I have some great memories like that, as well.  And I've added a whole new cache of memory from our trip to Ireland this past summer.  And they don't replace some of the simpler meal memories of eating pondside with my family at my grandparents' little cottage. Or the time, mid-July, Brian and I grilled steaks for a dozen family members while we all floated on a motorized raft across an Adirondack lake. Or the time my friends feasted with both food and art for my 38th birthday.  

Feasting of any sort is pure gift, don't you think?

 What memories do you have of the best-tasting meals of your life?  

I'm listening.

If you could talk to the world right now

Photo taken by  Christine Smith  at Laity Lodge a few years back.

Photo taken by Christine Smith at Laity Lodge a few years back.

I've had more opportunities to stand in front of a microphone than most. With all the opportunities, I'm not sure I've ever done it especially well.  I far prefer to share a give-and-take conversation or in printed words we exchange back and forth.  Still, there are times I've been invited to speak:  everything from sales training sessions to church group testimonies to that time I was a television news anchorwoman in fifth grade.  (It's true. I promise.)

The question I'm asking this week could be read a couple of different ways.  On any given day, we each have topics churning around in our brain.  Like: I'm wondering if anyone else watched old episodes of the West Wing last night instead of the first presidential debate?  I have some opinions on that subject, for damn sure.

I'm also pondering and praying on many thoughts about how we in the Church address race issues in the United States.  I occasionally blurt stuff out on social media on this subject, and continue to be humbled by my lack of understanding on the complexities of the subject.

I'd like to shout a few lines of glee out into the world about watching autumn in New England unfold bit by bit each day.  And that I have a fat, ripe spaghetti squash sitting on my kitchen counter, waiting for me to skillfully address it with a fresh tomato sauce.  

This week's conversation prompt could be answered by any of these subjects.  And each day my social media archive reminds me a whole plethora of topics I've needed to get off my chest to whomever is listening on the other side of my keyboard.  Millions of you are doing the same.

I'd rather talk this week, though, about the essence of your message into the world.  If you could sum up what most interests you, what subject you value the most to speak into the world, what would that sound like?  What words would you choose?  If some cosmic microphone rose up from the floor right in front of you this moment, and you knew you had the world's attention, what would you want to say?  (Let's pretend you'd be perfectly eloquent and not terrified at all for this scenario, ok?)

If the words had to be uniquely  yours, what ones would you choose?  Now, I feel rather strongly that I'd be compelled to include a few lines of poetry.  I guess that's allowed for this little hypothetical scenario.  But the bulk of the words, the tone, the subject, the motivation and meaning must come from you.  

What would you say?

Here's how I answered the question on the Facebook post this morning:

I would try to say concisely that we are all recipients of the good gift of life, but that we spoil the gift when we consume it solely for our own purposes and ideals. That we need each other collectively to live from our truest selves (which I believe we can only finally discover through the lens of a redeeming Christ as sent by our Creator God). Every single failure, oppressive system, offense, handicap, shortcoming, flaw and frailty that stops us from accessing the good gift of our own true selves for the sake of living a life for others can be transformed into a Spirit-energized force for good.

Maybe your words would be more topical?  Maybe you've walked through life with a gigantic Issue affecting everything you do or experience; an issue that you wish the world understood through your viewpoint?  That would be good for us to hear.  Or maybe, like me, it's a collection of things summed up under a specific category of experience?  Maybe you'd add a few jokes or a multi-media presentation?

What would you want us to understand better because we listened to your words?  

I'm listening.