When I was younger, I was sure that loneliness was both inevitable and temporary. It was simply the price one paid for moving to a faraway city or taking a new job or joining a different church.

Loneliness was a straightforward ailment easily cured in time.

Now that I am older, I understand loneliness not as a sickness but a shadow. The sun shines brightly here in the land of the living, but at certain times of day it casts a chilly shade. Perhaps early in the morning we recognize that a friendship has faded or a spouse seems distant. Perhaps late in the day we accept that long illness has left us craving company.

Loneliness may be inevitable but it is not predictable, and time is as likely to exacerbate the condition as cure it.

Over the years, I have made some measure of peace with the shadows. I now know that the greatest friends are not replaceable. Once, I lived in a city and could, within a few blocks, drop in on half a dozen dear friends. Now we rely on email and very occasional visits. These relationships live more in the shadows than in the sun, but they are no less precious for that.

I no longer consider it my duty to clean away every last scrap of darkness, but I am learning how to let in more of the light. Partly, it requires my own effort (open the blinds). Partly, it asks for patience (wait for the clouds to part).

More than a year ago, a local friend and I hatched an elaborate plan for a cookbook supper club. She and I had moved to this town at the same time a few years before, and we both wondered why we had still managed to make so few friends. Our solution was a monthly gathering of women sharing foods potluck style from the same cookbook. But no one we invited seemed to be available on the same day, and as my life spun out in a direction I could not have predicted, our plans faltered and eventually stalled.

A few months ago, my friend and I sat in my kitchen and talked over cups of tea. If anything our schedules had become more full, but we had both reached that point of exasperation where we knew something had to be done. Open the blinds! Try again!

We chose a date: the second Saturday of every month. We cut out the complexity and traded the cookbook idea for a simple theme. We sent out emails and messages. And then we showed up, one dish to share in each hand.

Our first month, we were three. Our second month, we were eight.

How good it is to know that no matter the weather today, no matter the forecast for tomorrow, I have a penciled note on my calendar reminding me exactly when the sun can be counted on to shine.

 

Tips For Starting Your Own Supper Club

Our supper club is new, but for those of you interested in organizing your own regular gathering, here are a few things we have already learned:

  1. Pick an easy-to-recall date and stick with it. Ours is the second Saturday of every month at 7 pm. The idea is not that everyone will be able to make every gathering. Rather, with a fixed date one less thing needs to be planned, and participants can join in or opt out month by month as schedules allow.
  2. A theme helps bring a potluck together more deliciously, but keep the themes simple for the first few months. We chose “winter comfort foods” and “south of the border.” We would like to try more ambitious themes, but we are saving those until after we have a few good dinners under our belts.
  3. A supper club facebook group can make it easier to send announcements and share recipes.
  4. Invite each guest to bring their own food storage containers. At the end of the night, divvy up the leftovers!

 

Finally, if you would like to organize a dinner gathering with purpose, may I recommend a new organization designed to help you do exactly that? Thanks to STIRR, delicious and meaningful Indian dinners have begun happening worldwide, and you are invited to participate.

STIRR works in partnership with freedom businesses in India to share with dignity the family recipes and personal stories of Indian women who have found hope and transformation beyond the dark realities of sex trafficking. STIRR aims to build bridges of understanding between distant communities, to give women an opportunity to tell their own important stories with dignity, and to support the businesses that are bringing light to dark places. Sign up here for delicious recipes, freedom stories, and conversation starters for your own gathering.

Tell me, how do you let in the light?

Christie Purifoy / Posts / Blog

Christie Purifoy earned a PhD in English literature at the University of Chicago before trading the classroom for an old farmhouse and a garden. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and four children, where she is witness to the seasonal beauty of God’s good creation. Her book Roots and Sky: A Journey Home in Four Seasons is out now from Revell. She blogs at www.christiepurifoy.com

  • C Allyn

    I love this idea of a supper club and once we move, relocate am going to begin this. Since my husband grew up in Pakistan I can appreciate a good curry.
    My shadows, absence of light was coupled with lack of warmth. In other words I was cold & indifferent to a number of things.
    I have been nursing my soul through reading. Articles, stories that speak right to some of those shadowy parts.
    Painting is what I returned to.
    Flowers and light. I keep getting pictures in my head of the way sunlight effects flowers.
    A dose of creativity.

    March 13th, 2017 10:05
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    • Christie Purifoy
      http://www.christiepurifoy.com

      I recommend it! If your experience is anything like mine, you will find longtime residents in your new home who are also lonely and feeling the need for friendship.

      March 13th, 2017 12:55
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      • C Allyn

        Thank you Christie. I needed to hear that.

        March 15th, 2017 9:24
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  • Danielle
    Danielle
    http://www.danielleayersjones.com

    We did a supper club for a while. Maybe someday I’ll do it again. I love this Stirr idea. I’m starting to find out more and hopefully work with a local anti-sex trafficing organization here locally in Baltimore. I’m doing a 5k to raise money and awareness and am going to their info meeting. So Stirr fits into this interest of mine, I’ll have to find out a more.

    March 13th, 2017 17:19
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    • Christie Purifoy
      http://www.christiepurifoy.com

      And I’d love to tell you more! This is such important work. I’m glad you are already finding ways to get involved.

      March 13th, 2017 18:37
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  • Devi
    http://mydailybreadandbutter.com

    Christie, thank you for this. I love the frame and metaphor you’ve created; it helps me understand loneliness and friendship so much better.

    March 13th, 2017 22:02
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  • Margaret Huss

    I like the idea of a supper club mainly for fellowship, friendship building and possibly ministry….one chosen by the club as worthy for support. Since my husband died loneliness has been a constant companion, too constant.
    I not only want friends but need them. This idea seems doable and hopefully possible….just need the people interested in the idea.

    March 14th, 2017 0:58
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    • Christie Purifoy
      http://www.christiepurifoy.com

      I pray it can bless you as it has blessed me, Margaret. Loneliness is a heavy burden.

      March 15th, 2017 14:13
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