We had some friends over last Friday evening for a fall chili feed. The week was busier than we’d hoped, so up until the moment our guest began to arrive, we were still cleaning, cooking, and prepping…plus managing our kids, our dog, and our jobs. With 30 minutes to go, I was sincerely wondering if this little “get-together” was gonna be worth the effort.
Our friends began to roll in, bearing snacks and sweets, beer and wine, to complement the spread we had started in the kitchen. These were all our friends and all from St. Michael Catholic Church — and most of them knew many of the others, but I’m not sure if anyone but Jodi and me and Fr. Richards knew everyone. We said grace as a party, sampled chilis and home-brewed beers, and talked about kids (had we invited whole families, the dozen or so couples would have had more than 70 children in tow), work, school, politics, hunting, and most importantly in The Bubble, our shared faith. The men ultimately congregated in the basement, and at one point, I walked in to hear a good friend of mine relating how, at a retreat, I once stopped mid-witness, smacked by the Holy Spirit, tearful and trembling and grinning, to tell the men on that retreat, “You guys gotta try this!” Upstairs in the kitchen, three or four life-giving women of our parish were gathered near the sink I was trying to access, talking frankly about how God’s will manifests itself in our lives. I listened a moment, then quietly said, “I love you people.”
From 6:30 to midnight, our house was packed to the rafters with beautiful, prayerful men and women. Father was the first to head home, but he blessed us, upstairs and down, before he left for the night. There were friends missing — some who were going hunting or had other obligations, some we forgot in our own whirlwind of busy-ness, some who live states away in their own little bubbles — but we spent the evening basking in personal warmth and genuine love, and even the ache of their absence helped us to feel complete.
Was it worthwhile? Definitely. Scarcely a waking hour has passed since that I have not paused a moment, thought of one of these dear friends, smiled, and said, “I love you people.” And I do. We hope this will become an annual event, and we will do our best to invite all the others…
I’ve always been a big-headed, geeky, heart-on-my-sleeve kind of guy, with no athletic talent, a poor sense of direction, and few other manly aptitudes upon which to hang my hat. I’m old-fashioned, idealistic, and a hopeless romantic. I write for a living; I don’t follow sports closely; and I don’t drink much or tell off-color jokes (anymore). Often I feel like I don’t fit in. Except here, in The Bubble. Here, Jodi and I have met men and women, our brothers and sisters in Christ, who understand exactly where we’re coming from, and what we hope to be.
What a blessing. What a life.