eating together.

i’ve had the pure joy of being able to sit at a table and share some food with two different groups of people in the past 2 days. wednesday night i had fika with the youth & young adults that lina works with. it was fun to listen to their conversations (and try to keep up. haha). after having a meeting, the fika break was a chance for them to just chill and chat with each other. i think that the break warmed everyone up, because what came a little bit later blew me away. one of the guys asked me a question about God (specifically adam & eve). oh yeah. they found out i was a minister & a teacher during the fika break. then a girl asked me why God allowed people that we love to die. then, another asked me how can we believe in science and the Bible. and i don’t remember what else… i did my best to stick to my ways of talking openly with young people, challenging what they might already know, and then reminding them that it is up to them to figure out their own beliefs for themselves. gaaahh. it felt so good to use my education, and to be in a familiar role again. oh, how i miss it. after i tacked some of the questions, a debate surfaced between the youth about the death penalty and violence/war. lina, lina’s co-worker, and i stayed quiet. the youth debated, argued, and (somewhat) listened to each other for over an hour. it was crazy and so amazing, and i was honored to be able to witness these young people using their brains and standing up for what they believe (even if i didn’t agree with some things). the point is that they were trying to figure things out for themselves. sitting together around a table is like an open invitation to relax and really talk, and that’s exactly what happened wednesday night.

the second table experience took place thursday evening. i went to my iraqi friends’ apartment to visit them since we haven’t seen each other this week. we missed each other. hehe. we ended up sitting around a table on the balcony for 3 hours, eating food and sharing stories from our lives. we talked about easter, war, swedish, nature, and laughed… alot. this family is amazing to me. they have seen and lived so many different things than me. they told me some about their experiences in iraq after the war started in 2003. they told me how they were not afraid to die because of their faith, even though there was danger all around them. my friends and their sisters are living examples of what it means to be strong, to stand up for what they believe, and to laugh in the midst of danger instead of living in fear. it was a fantastic evening!

these two different evenings have touched me. and on this thursday, the night that jesus shared his last meal with his disciples, i may not have gone to church and celebrated maundy thursday or had a traditional passover/sedar meal in the way i have done it before, but i shared time around two different tables with amazing and inspiring people, talking about life and faith. i don’t think it can get much better than that. it’s been faith meeting life in the middle of reality.

after sharing a meal with his disciples, jesus then went to the garden to pray. it was a painful and agonizing time for him – perhaps one of his most human moments, as he asked God to please take this “cup” away from him. he did not want to face what came next, i believe. his humanity was showing big time. nevertheless, from deep within and from a desire to remain faithful, he asked for it not to be done, yet knew all along he would continue. (and now i’m thinking about my friends and their willingness to be true to their faith even though they were in danger). and as the night unfolded for jesus, as he was arrested, mocked, and beaten, he stood silent, refusing to fight back (thinking of the teenagers debate over violence and the death penalty now). and i’m left with questions for myself: do i have the faith to go on, even when things seem so dangerous (physically & emotionally)? am i willing to be mocked, made fun on, spat on, and yet refuse to fight back? am i true to myself and my purpose/calling in every situation?

eating together has given me much to ponder and inspired me in so many ways. sharing meals is an intimate, powerful way to spend time with someone. and i am thankful that i have shared these times during this special week.

i’ve chosen this picture because it reminds me of the garden of gethsemane (where jesus prayed on this night). it’s not that the garden had these kinds of trees, but after my second sharing-meal, i passed this tree on my way home. i was shocked. it was so unexpected, the first tree i’d seen with wide-open blooms all over it. it reminded me that even during the darkest times, there is always hope. just around the corner. unexpected. and beautiful.


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