I think we had the bad luck of picking the hottest day of the year for our church picnic recently. Kelly, my Floridian daughter, was home visiting for a week, and she came with Carman and me to share a meal with my church family after our Sunday service. I was busy doing my usual graphic artist thing by taking pictures for our church web site. I was also trying to pay attention to those who seemed kind of off by themselves. Jessica sat alone at a table most of the time I was there, and I told her that I wanted to talk to her soon, as we haven't had a lot of conversation lately. And I know her life has been so hard.
But it wasn't until a couple days later that I realized how alone my daughter felt when we were there. I can see that in this picture I quickly shot of her. She's almost giving me a polite smile, but I caught her in real mode.
I felt sad when she told me later that she tried to engage people by smiling and making eye contact, and it didn't work. I felt sad when she told me that one young woman made kind of a rude comment to something she said. Lee had just given a spiritual talk about being God-saturated, and here we were isolating ourselves from others. How I wish our mutual faith in Christ would transform us all into family that reaches out and embraces others with the passion that early Christ followers must have felt, or the passion that Christians who worshiped in countries where our faith was forbidden must have had.
I tried to think of a practical solution from event planning experience, but that wasn't any good. The only thing I could do was write this prayer:
We ask you to bless this food
And to bless those without enough sustenance,
Whether they need nourishment for their bodies,
or the bread of friendship for their souls.
We thank you for this chance to share a meal together.
We pray that you will open our hearts and remind us that
We are all your children and all family.
Coax us to share a smile with a stranger.
Encourage us to say a kind word.
Nudge us to strike up a conversation with someone
We’ve never talked to before.
Help us this day to share our food and our selves,
As your Son did with so many of us, at so many tables.