“ Mom, what’s for dinner? Will dad be home? Is there going to be garlic? You know I don’t like garlic!”
Questions pinged one after the other from the backseat of our suburban as I shuffled my girls home from ballet class. I ran through the evening’s logistics in my head, unsure of how to answer. Would Josh’s meeting run late or would he join us for dinner tonight? How would I time the chicken around when the baby needed to nurse? Should I just fess up to the garlic or hope my picky eater didn’t notice tonight?
Dinner time had become a chore.
It was one more place to try and appease everyone’s palette, one more task to check off the list before bedtime, and more aspect of motherhood that had me feeling a little fragile. When had it all become such a tangle of details and stopped feeling like a feast? I longed to gather and linger, to eat slow, to connect with the hearts of my family. But all my rushing left each of us more hollow night after night.
In busy seasons, many areas of my life intended for refreshment have felt like to-dos. Sunday Sabbaths twist into a spiritual charge or duty, instead of a place to meet with the Creator of Heaven, and allow him to breathe life into the dry bones of my week. When I’m found striving, that’s when ministry meetings and coffee talk stop being joy and can all change to the tune of “I have to.”
When I bustle about my kitchen sweating over side dishes, and how to make all the pieces of the night fit, when I struggle to yield, or even to go slow, I lose the heart of hospitality. I need to be reminded in these moments that rest is an invitation. It is one I must learn how to receive more often, but it is also one that I must extend to my family and every other loved one at my table.
To be still can seem nearly impossible, but my mind and body, both spinning nearly all the time, dream of nothing else. Its when I recall the verse that I remember: “Be Still and know that I am God.”
We are never just to be still for its own sake, but so that we may know Him. See Him. Commune with Him. To be still holds a promise. If I want my children to know me, if I want to hold their hearts, rest must come first too.
When tiny eyes see me set the table in a hurry, face flushed and smile tense, why I am surprised that when we finally sit down they do not feel entirely welcome, and that in the hours leading up to a shared meal they are more aware of the burden of it all that bears on me? These little years, gathered together at the table of our home are the ones where they will learn how to feast, how to live thanksgiving and the rest of God and how to feed on Him first. Its where they will know that to know Him starts will being still, at the table all together, in hushed anchors that hold down each day, in prayers uttered and in the listening ears of parents who invite them to come.
Because our invitation to rest is the first they will ever have into the Kingdom of Heaven, the first time they will ever be called to taste and see that the Lord is good.
And so as I answer my girl in the backseat on the drive home I smile big and say, “Shall we wait until we are sure daddy can join us? Maybe you can help me peel the garlic too? Even if you don’t want it in your sauce you can see how amazing it is- God made garlic to split into little pieces just like an orange! You’re going to love it!” And we make plans for appetizers that will hold us all over until babies have been nursed and daddies have walked through the door and we decide to go slow into the evening together, finding a way to one another and to being known when we say no to the rush.