It's not just the dish.

Earlier this week, I challenged people to think about what they were distributing into the Universe and the intent behind their actions. One of our readers from the UK, Antonia asked me if this was my segue to this week’s reflection here. While I had not thought about it at the time, it in some respects was, but for different reasons. She said it reminded her of a story in the New Testament about a young boy who gave Jesus a meager offering of fish and loaves and bread. Jesus took this gift and fed the masses. So often, we may not feel as if we may make a difference in the world, however, we never know how what we offer to the universe will change people’s lives.

It is all about the intent. Love and positive energy changes things. Sometimes just inviting people to the table to share a pizza and soda (not even homemade) makes people feel loved. Sometimes it is not what is on the table, but what is exchanged at the table. We host a bimonthly women’s potluck supper on the 1st and 3rd Saturdays of each month. I love the women who we gather with, however, the reality is that most of them do not or do not care to cook. We generally count on there one home made dish being present. The balance of the dishes are random contributions picked up at one of the local grocery stores.

There are two powerful lessons I have learned from the women with whom we gather. One is that the simplest of ingredients can taste like “more” when made with love. I remember one gathering when I really did not have the time or energy to make anything complex. I also did not have the money to buy anything additional. Looking in my pantry, what I had was an abundance of rice and lentils. I could hear Anne Burrell saying they were not the “sexiest” ingredients at the party. However, it was what I had. So I made a lentil and rice pilaf with blackened onions. A recipe that is supposed to feed 4, fed 12, and the 1 thing every woman said was they could taste the love. I have a few friends I am teaching to overcome their fear of baking and the one ingredient they learn to bring with them is love. People can taste the love.

The other lesson I learned is that they do not come for the food; that is a bonus. They come for the love they experience in the room. They come for a chance to experience some joy and laughter; after a rough week the chance to laugh is healing and much needed. They come because they feel loved in our home. It is not so much anything we do, it is just who we are. They come and dine on the spiritual gifts being distributed and leave with full baskets and bellies and know there is nothing more to be said or done. It is what it is. There are gifts of love from us for whoever walks into our “distribution center.”

Our paycheck is knowing we have done some good in the world that day. There is an internal satisfaction in watching someone shift from depressed to laughing. Even on those nights when nobody comes, and there have been a few, there is a sense of gratefulness we are still able to open our doors to anyone who should wander in.