On a recent Sunday night, I hosted an intimate birthday dinner for a dear friend. And when 10 people gather around the table for a celebratory meal – prepared by three women who all love to cook – you end up with way more food than what can possibly be consumed in one evening.
It’s a delicious problem.
At the end of our lovely meal, my friends graciously donated all the leftovers to feed my Monday night girls.
The following night, at 5:45 pm, I pulled out the caprese skewers I had stored it the refrigerator in a large baggie over night, and arranged them on a platter with a fresh drizzle of balsamic glaze over the top.
Then I took the salad greens, homemade dressing, and salad fixings my friend had prepped for the birthday dinner, and tossed it all together with chunks of rotisserie chicken and sliced fresh strawberries that I had picked up at the grocery store earlier in the afternoon.
I sliced up some bread that I picked up at the bakery in the grocery store and served it on a platter with a small bowl of softened butter.
Thirty minutes later, at 6:15 pm, I sat down at our table to share a homemade meal with 12 women.
What a wonderful gift to enjoy a meal together without the feeling of hurried fatigue.
I know that the suggestion of using leftovers to feed your community isn’t revolutionary. But the point I want to share about leftovers is this:
It’s easy to give ourselves permission to accept help when we feel stretched due to schedules, illness, etc. But when you are committed to serving people regularly in your home, say yes to help even when everything is going great. Let people help you even if you don’t feel like you need it.
In the initial months after we began opening our home for two weekly meals, a very good friend of mine helped me to see that I was being foolish – like only a good friend can – because I was only accepting help and gifts of refreshment once I was exhausted.
Help was something that I thought I needed to earn. And exhaustion was the price.
Why do we do that? Why do so many of us only accept help when we are frazzled or weary. How much more could we accomplish if we accepted help when we’re rested? If we let others help us carry the load of our work even when we are feeling great, wouldn’t we be stretched to a point of exhaustion less frequently?
Sharing the burden of work within community – at all times, not just when we are desperate – enables us to experience the gift of working from our rest, verses resting from our work.
And working from our rest is a much more satisfying way to engage in the practice of hospitality.