I love to write about food. Good food, especially when shared with good friends, makes for memorable times.
We had a wonderful experience this past weekend when we visited with friends – two of them relatively new friends and one whom I’ve known since college. And the food! Oh, let me tell you about the food. Beef barley soup so thick you could have used a fork; zucchini quiche, Irish soda bread as good as Mrs. Cunningham’s, apple crisp, pumpkin pie, roasted asparagus….on a bien mange’! All in the company of cherished friends, with laughter and love and memory-making.
I told a story about my year in Fribourg, as I often do, because there are so many stories, and because my old friend had been there with me. I talked about traveling to Amsterdam with my friend Beth. After a week there together, we separated – she left to visit relatives elsewhere, and I traveled south to the town of Louvain, Belgium, where a couple of friends from college were studying for the priesthood at the seminary in Louvain. Well, I’d spent pretty much all of my money while in Amsterdam and there was no way to get more money on the road (this was 1979: no ATMS, no one had a credit card or any easy access to cash). But I was welcomed in Louvain, provided a clean, spare room reserved for women visitors in a wing of the building. I attended Mass and ate dinner with my friends. This was during Lent, so there wasn’t a whole lot to eat that evening. The next day, I slept late and missed the early breakfast, and was too embarrassed to ask for anything from the kitchen. With my friends in class and an entire day to myself, I walked around the quaint town, admiring buildings, churches, and especially food displays in shop windows.
I’d never known a time when I was hungry and had no access to food, until this day. This one short period of time, from supper one evening until supper the next, I had no food, and no way to buy food. I wanted food. I thought about stealing food (I knew I’d never do it, but images of the Artful Dodger grabbing an orange from a truck made it seem possible).
So in this week leading up to Thanksgiving, when we all gather at a table filled with more food than we need, and (hopefully) offer a prayer of gratitude for such abundance, I will remember one day in my life – one day – when I was in need of food. And I will take more of what we have to share with others who are hungry every day.