“It helps to imagine an ornate gold frame. Pick it up (don’t worry; it’s only pretend) and place it around the image that appears when you say ‘supper at my house.’ Bet the picture you see is very specific: These are the seats we sit in, the things we discuss. Here is the person who shows up last. That is the bowl we use for the rice…. Sitting down to a meal together draws a line around us. It encloses us and, for a brief time, strengthens the bonds that connect us with the others members of [our family], shutting out the rest of the world.”
I love photography; that is why I love this quote. It tells you to stop for a minute and observe. To pull up the image of your family mealtime. Can you see it? It can seem so trivial: What’s the big deal? You rush around, trying to get everything hot and on the table at the same time. Everyone comes, eats, leaves and you clean up. However this author is challenging us to take a step backwards and take a long, slow look at this seemingly mundane activity. There is something more that happens here.
Mealtime is a gathering. The people you love the most come to the same place at the same time. Conversations happen; memories are made. There is laughter and tears. A strong family bond begins to form—a bond that grows stronger by doing it again tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after that.
The mundane has purpose. If it weren’t for the ordinary duties of food preparation and kitchen cleanup, than this moment, this mealtime, this bond, wouldn’t exist.
So the next time you make dinner, hang that “mealtime picture” on the wall of your mind while you grate the cheese and toss the salad. You are making much more than dinner.
—from the archives
“Sisters, all the advice from Vogue, Glamour, and Cosmopolitan that talks about going after and getting your man, all the blather about how in this day and age it is just as acceptable for you to initiate as for him, is just that—blather. Be confident and trust your feelings on this matter. Be confident that if he is the man you hope and wish him to be, he will play the man. You crackle the leaves a bit when he is in the area and let him know you are there. Then wait for him to initiate, or not. In the long run, you will be well served either way.” Doing Things Right in Matters of the Heart, page 94
In his newly converted, youthful zeal, my dad, and a group of his friends decided that God had called them to remain single. Dad was uninterested in the efforts of women to attract his attention. Put off by their forward manner, it was easy to think that God wasn’t leading him to get married.
Until he met my mom.
When he walked into the canteen at the Christian retreat center where Mom was working for the week, she didn’t try to catch his eye. Instead, she told him the canteen was closed. After pleading for a hot dog (because he had been serving and preaching all day and was tired and hungry) she finally relented. But to this day, Dad claims the hot dog was as cold as her demeanor. (She disputes this accusation, of course!)
My dad, who only a day before thought he would remain single, was suddenly smitten. Something in him—something that wanted to initiate, pursue, and win a woman’s heart—was awakened. So he asked my mom to take a walk. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Mom used to remind my sisters and me of this story when we were tempted to try to get some guy’s attention. Allow a man to win your heart, she would say. And if he doesn’t want to, then why would you want him?
God created men to initiate and he created women to respond. Or, as John Ensor also puts it, “His power is in the exclamation [of love]. Yours is in the echo.” When we remember this, things will work right in matters of the heart.
—from the archives