My global garden feast featuring Taiwan and Nicaragua

It was an odd summer at my house, with my husband working in another city and kids away for weeks at a time. It may have been a little lonely, but it also meant that I had the perfect opportunity to fill my house up with international visitors!

This year the Presbyterian Church in Canada hosted Canada Youth 2014 at Brock University. I went with my children, A. and S. (I was a chaplain) and it was there that I first met a group of special guests from our international partners–Taiwan, Ukraine, Nicaragua, and Malawi. They not only came to the conference but had time before and after for sightseeing, visiting and learning. That’s where my feast comes in!

Home visits are a great way for visitors to get a feel for what every day life is really like here, and I was thrilled to welcome six young people into my home for three days. They had a daily itinerary, but we spent mornings and evenings together. The last night was my favourite and the meal we shared was unforgettable.

054It started with me in a bit of a panic because I didn’t know we would be having supper at my place, but it didn’t take long to pull together the ingredients for pasta and a chunky tomato sauce. At the mere hint of an invitation, I had a willing crowd of chefs who began peeling, chopping and sauteing. The best part was Virginia and I heading out to the garden to choose fresh herbs for our sauce–thyme, basil, parsley, oregano. It smelled fantastic.

060There was a happy hum in the house as we set the table with the special dishes I inherited from my grandmother, found a bottle of wine (our visitors were of age, I promise!) and lit the candles. By the time we sat down for our meal, my heart was full of gratitude and delight. This was a beautiful privilege to share my home, my garden and my table with these new friends from around the world.

We lingered over supper, complimenting ourselves on creating a delicious meal. I received cards and gifts that made me laugh and almost weep. There was singing, a surprise viola solo, and a Spirit of warm community. “It feels like Christmas,” James said, and he was right. We stayed up far too late and it was wonderful.

066We celebrate communion in church from time to time, remembering the meal Jesus shared with his friends. We may not have had a formal liturgy that night in July, but that feast with my friends was a sacred moment. I am so glad I opened my door in welcome, and that my guests opened their hearts to me in return.

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About Kristine OBrien

Kristine O'Brien is minister at Trafalgar, Oakville, Ont. She blogs at The Blooming Reverend. Subscribe to this blog.