Without a doubt, my favorite place in my home is the dining room table. The more people crammed around it, the better. We have laughed, cried, dreamt, celebrated, thanked God, and argued while sharing a meal with friends, family, neighbors, and even strangers. I continue to be blown away by the power of a shared meal.
Brenda and I have “adopted” three young ladies from the Dominican Republic this summer. They are working in Door County, Wisconsin, on a J-1 visa at the Ice Cream Factory, right up the road from our house. While they love the excitement of a new country and a new job, they are homesick and lonely. Two weeks ago, I googled “Dominican Republic Beans and Rice Recipe” and discovered a recipe for Moro de Habichuelas. When they saw what I had made, tears came to their eyes. As they inhaled the sazon and adobo spices, they couldn’t help but smile. They felt loved. Who would have known beans and rice could be used to say you are loved and not alone?
Over and over again, I have seen how a simple meal nurtures new and meaningful connections and friendships. I have watched and personally experienced coming to the table tired, depressed, and overwhelmed, yet leaving the meal with renewed hope and a sense of emotional well-being. I love how food has the remarkable ability to transcend language, culture, and barriers. It is a universal language that enables connections to be formed with individuals from different walks of life; building bridges and breaking barriers with people different than we are.
I wonder who you might share a meal with sometime this week? Maybe you know of someone who is struggling, lonely, or overwhelmed. Is there a way you could share a meal with them? It doesn’t have to be a gourmet meal. A toasted cheese sandwich with tomato soup, eaten with some who is lonely, can taste like a surf and turf meal with a $200 bottle of Merlot. So do it! Set the table. Find a recipe. Invite someone to join you. Help someone today know they are not alone and loved.