Each of us comes to an opinion based on our experiences and level of understanding. We all can’t possibly understand – everything. We bring our experiences, education and culture to the table, as an offering, in hopes of understanding. Also seated at the table, are other people, with other experiences, education and cultures.
This table can go from a delightful meal to an all-out, table turned over, brawl in a nanosecond. Why? a lack of experience and understanding.
Come to the table…
You learn much about other humans when you sit at the table and share a meal. Share a culture. Share experiences. Share understanding, however small that plate may be.
When the wine is being poured, someone will delight in their experience of having visited that winery on a weekend with their Love. While a person criticizes for having served the right wine in the wrong glass, a guest is staring into said glass, in an internal battle against addiction, terrified of relapsing against an enemy no one knew about.
The first course, a lovely ceviche, is praised by many; but a lone guest is embarrassed about his shellfish allergy and sits quietly, not knowing that the person seated across from him is also allergic and panic riddled.
When the entrée is served, one party goer goes off on a tangent about how unethical it is to eat meat, while another guest remembers the time they were served this same magical meal at their late grandmother’s home as a child. While yet another guest remembers the time they cleaned the same meal from the floor when their abusive ex toppled it for not being prepared correctly.
The salad course is served with “dressing on the side” experience of childhood sexual assault. While some awkwardly and uncomfortably pick at the lettuces in this course, others will find it all too familiar and haunting. And while some may be leaning in to understanding, someone will grumble because So & So used the wrong fork.
When the coffee is being poured, someone will speak of the amazing coffee they experienced in Peru and their eyes fill with tears at the memory of the poor village children they met while on a mission trip. Another attendee smiles in the knowledge they sponsor a child from a nearby village in Peru. All the while, someone is rubbing a scar from a time when the hot liquid was spilled on them.
The dessert tray is being paraded through the door and attendees gasp at the promise of sweet delicacies and indulgences, even while a guest is planning her ‘purge’ of the entire night’s meal when she returns home.
In a time when all our life is ladled out to social media, we believe our experience is the only course that matters. A level of understanding every person’s backstory is not required. All the shouting and name-calling does little to sway our understanding. If anything, it further divides us.
Come to the table…
- I don’t care what glass you serve the wine in or if it came from a box. Choose to love the person who served it and offered the comfort of their home.
- I know I’ve made huge mistakes as a parent. Still, I can choose to travel hundreds of miles to sit with an incarcerated woman and remind her that she’s doing a great job crafting a journal or beading a bracelet for her child.
- You may not understand the war against the mirror and body acceptance, but you can love the heart of the human you see before you.
- You don’t have to have firsthand experience with faceless demon of addiction to know that it destroys people and the ripple effects live long after the overdose or even sobriety. Choose to have empathy for those left in its devastation.
- I can’t possibly understand the plight of someone who has been assaulted by a police officer, but I understand the feeling of betrayal by someone who was meant to protect me.
All that having been said, someone is still incensed that I served the salad course after the entrée. Y’all, love is messy and doesn’t follow a Pinterest chart of proper etiquette*. Just love the party. Love the people hosting and attending. Laugh with them, raise a plastic cup of Dom Perignon or your lead crystal stemware of Pepsi. I’ll likely pick the endive out of the salad because I don’t like it but I’ll still hug the cook.
It’s simple, lean in, learn about each other and love them anyway .
[*YES, I checked Pinterest for the fitting dinner party courses, in order. Even Pinterest can’t agree on the proper order!]