The Dinner

Friends, Margaret and Dan and I ate together for it was the last time we would be together before I leave. The thing I felt was that this meal was a little taste of heaven.

First Margaret is a gourmet cook creating a feast from simple, natural ingredients. New Seasons’ beef with GF buns, and condiments galore, baked whole carrots (with the tops on) and asparagus, a huge, beautiful salad and flourless chocolate cake for dessert. Delightful, wonderful meal.

So good — so incredible.

But the evening was more than food. The fun began with my arrival. I’d picked up flowers for Margaret for her birthday that week. And I had brought a gift bag with  some of our homemade art notecards. So as I entered I was holding the flowers and the gift bag, wearing shorts, short white socks, my untucked blue-checkered shirt and my red rain jacket. I was a sight to behold!!!

It was definitely a baggy look. No lines. Margaret looked at me, burst out laughing and exclaimed —

“Little Brian! You’re home from camp!!! And you brought your art projects!! Is that your ceramic handprint?” She asked pointing to the gift bag.

Years of church camps came to mind. The arrival home. The sense of being a kid. The momentary shame that I looked the part in the outfit I’d enjoyed wearing. Just for a nanosecond I felt hurt, but, I know Margaret’s heart. Yes, she’s tough and unflappable, after a long, first career in sales, and deeply authentic, truly honest, and full of love. She’d never want to cause anyone injury. And, I knew, she loves me. Knowing all this I laughed and responded, saying–

“MOM!!!! Yes, I just arrived and found these flowers in a field along the way so brought them for you!!”

That moment at the door, opened another door of blessing for our time. We bantered back and forth with Dan laughing and joining in. We entered into this fun evening of relationship, of light and of joy.

The notecards that I had brought for Margaret were made from the paintings that Gabrielle and I have created. As she opened this gift, all banter about camp ceased, as Margaret was so very blessed. She and Dan were impressed by the artwork. They expressed such joy.

With that alone they understood why I was choosing to take a month to paint while on sabbatical.

We shared about the upcoming sabbatical, the parts that still have me frightened, the parts that have me excited. We talked about what I’m looking forward to and shared stories from our lives. Dan’s story of how and his wife had met and courted was classic. Margaret’s of how God had led her from sales into retooling and becoming a counselor was also one of those incredible “God works in mysterious ways” accounts. It was one of those evenings immersed in the presence of God.

I sometimes think that You, God, orchestrate events out of love just for us. I don’t know how intimately You do this but I believe You are at the very least involved. When I left Margaret’s, I felt this deep gratefulness. I was so thankful for friends, for laughter, for joy, for shared time over meals. You did something more with that night, Lord. You showed me again, how much You are the God of Purpose, behind this journey, behind the planned encounters, behind the joy, behind every experience. I need not search, for You’ll be right there. I need not fear, for this has long been planned. I hear you whisper: “Just you wait, my son, just you wait for all the beauty I have planned along the Camino.”

It’s truly already begun…

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