If I could “pin” moments in my life like one can pin stuff in Pinterest, I would have pinned a good chunk of yesterday.
A week or so ago, through Facebook comments, I ended up with an invite to visit old friends. I went to high school with K, and we have remained friends throughout the years. As life went on and families changed, it’d be the occasional email, but Facebook has helped renew the contact. I have always admired K and his wife, E. They dated in college; I vaguely remember a few breakups, and an epic Halloween party in one of E’s first apartments. K&E were my first closer friends to get married; It was 1995 and I was in graduate school and had barely kissed anyone and here they were tying the knot! I was envious, but not; They made, and still are, a beautiful couple.
I was standing in their kitchen, talking and attempting to wrangle my toddler when their daughter hollered from the front of the house that friends were there. Instantly, two energetic young women bounded into the kitchen and gave E big hugs. I heard all about college and nursing school and wanting to get married. Then the daughter and the girls took the baby to play and went upstairs to talk prom. A few minutes later, a friend of E’s walked in the back door, and at the same time, the girls came back downstairs. The two dogs were barking, a fluffy black cat lounged on the top of a cupboard, tomato soup was simmering on the stove, and lamb stew was bubbling away in the crock pot. The conversation was chaotic and awesome, and while I only knew E, I was introduced to everyone and felt included and welcome. The daughter modeled two prom dress options. The young women complained that the baby made their ovaries hurt, and E and her friend talked about upcoming Easter Sunday meal plans. Then K&E’s youngest, a sweet boy, came bounding into the room. He said hello to everyone. I think he snagged a piece of fruit from a bowl on the counter, but he definitely disappeared back up the stairs from where he came.
After all of the friends departed, E told me that it’s often like that in their house. Friends of their kids stop by, friends of the grown ups stop by. I asked if I could do anything to help with dinner, I was told no, and that they were thrilled to have me join them. We sat on the sofa and talked and caught up some more. We talked faith and religious practice and what I like to call my whackadoodle religious background along with my commitment to raising my daughter in the Roman Catholic Church. We talked about K and their son both planning to become a Rabbis in the Messianic movement, kashering kitchens and attending shul and shabbat candles. I probably could have sat there forever, learning and sharing and learning even more.
A little while later, K got home from work. We all sat down to dinner, and K led a beautiful grace, thanking God for the food we were about to eat, for family, and for friends at the table. He ended it with a Hebrew prayer, which the entire family recited along with him. I only recognized one phrase, Baruch atah Adonai, but I knew enough to say Amen at the end. Even though I didn’t understand all of it, it felt really good to be sharing a tiny bit of my Jewishness with my daughter. While she will go through the sacraments, my daughter will know of her Jewish heritage and what it means to be Jewish in today’s world. Other than the few times that she has grabbed my Star of David necklace and the few bits of a matzoh ball she has eaten, my daughter has experienced so little of that part of her heritage. I know so little myself… I like to think that we can learn, together, while we learn about the sacraments, too.
After dinner we sat and caught up some more, while talking kids and work and careers and life and before I realized what was happening, it was going on 10:00 pm – two hours past the baby’s bedtime, and I still had a bit of a drive home.
I didn’t want the evening to end, and that’s when it hit me – I want my home to be like K&E’s. I want my kid’s friends to feel comfortable enough to pop in, when they’re kids and when they’re all grown up. I want friends and family around the dinner table, planned or impromptu. I want to be comfortable and strong enough in my faith that I can share and teach it. Heck, I want to figure out what it is I actually believe! I want to be like E – beautiful & graceful even when there’s chaos all around.