A Visit to the Archives
Summer. A time for sobremesa! Time to linger and lounge and laugh…all over a great meal. I loved this blog post the first time and so wanted to share it again—with hopes it encourages us all to experience renewed commitment to sobremesa!
Sobremesa, literally ‘over the table,’ has no precise English translation, perhaps because there is no cultural equivalent. Sobremesa is the leisurely time after we have finished eating, but before we get up from the table. Time spent in conversation, digesting, relaxing, enjoying. Certainly not rushing. Not reserved for weekends—though it can be longest on Sundays—even weekday and business meals have sobremesa.”
Something very, very special happened last night. Thanks to the invitation of a really great friend, six people experienced something called sobremesa.
A few years ago, my older daughter, Candace Rose, first introduced this Spanish delight to our family. On a little chalkboard pic in our dining room, she wrote this lovely Spanish word, sharing that it meant to linger after a meal. After spending time in Spain, where she experienced this first hand, she said it was one of her favorite things about that culture. Funny—it has always been my favorite thing to do, I just didn’t know it had such a charming name. I refuse to erase her reminder to linger.
Right after lunch today, this beautiful email showed up in my inbox, written by our beloved hostess, Luana. She unselfishly said yes to my request to post it. Not only is she a dear friend and incredible source of support, she is a gifted writer, who crafts stories that lift the heart to heavenly places, much like Helen Steiner Rice, the beloved Ambassador of Sunshine.
It is my hope that Luana’s words will bring a little sunshine to you today. (As I write, a major storm front is moving through my area, so I welcome this sunshine!)
“R n R”: Resting in Relationships, by Luana Hugel, Guest writer
Do you ever have those moments? Those moments when you realize that you have people in your life that are important to you, but you haven’t taken the time to see them or spend any reasonable length of time with them. You pass them at church or a social function and give a drive-by hug, as your heart reaches quickly to connect, but it only lasts a moment. But, as is the nature of moments, the twinkling doesn’t linger. It evaporates with the next tick of the clock, and before you know it a year has passed since you really connected in a meaningful way. And so it was that I found myself caught in a moment of longing for the companionship of precious friends. On Monday afternoon I zipped off an email to two dear couples and said, “I can’t stand it any more. Come to dinner. Friday. [6:30]. You bring a salad. You bring dessert. We’ll do the rest. Keep it simple.” And you know what happened? They said, “Yes!”
Later that week I attended a webinar hosted by Janell Rardon, one of the ladies I had invited. As I prepared for the session I read through the material she shared and watched a Ted Talk by Daniel Rubin on “The Power of Rest and Reflection.”
In this short TedTalk, Rubin explores how we experience the concept of time and how we can change that experience. His family both practices and celebrates the Jewish observance of Shabbat, the day of rest, which begins at sundown on Friday night and ends with the arrival of three stars on Saturday evening. Shabbat is described as a sample of the world-to-come, the Messianic Age. Think of it like heaven on earth. Daniel Rubin spoke of the joy of pulling away from the busyness of this world, and all things electric. He talked about our need for rest and restoration and how the practices of pulling away and developing quality time is essential to that end.
I was captivated.
I wondered how I could help my friends experience a bit of rest and restoration as we re-connected to each other. Busy with the day’s activities, I looked at my watch and the inspiration came. What if we all took off our watches? What if we couldn’t see or hear a clock? What if we took our phones out of our pockets and muted them and just breathed the same air with one another, without looking down at a device for an answer to a meaningless question? What if we had a chance to really reconnect without all the facts and figures Mother Google offers to us, along with the steady march of Father Time as her companion?
So it was on Friday night our friends showed up at the door, arms laden with good food, and big hugs to share. I, in my typically flawed entertaining fashion, was running late. I was busily stuffing sweet-hot peppers with basil and mozzarella as everyone settled in with bountiful laughter. After beverages were poured I asked them if they had seen the video Janell had shared earlier in the week and explained that I really wanted to bless them with a night of technical disconnectedness, so we could connect to one another… so we could rest and restore. They were great sports and all the phones and watches went into a big bowl on the counter, which was quickly covered up and forgotten. As each phone and watch had clinked against the metal bowl, I could feel the excitement rise in me. It felt so good.
It felt almost radical! And it was! It was a radical rejection of the push of the clock and a revolt against the curse of hyper-cyber-connection. It felt great… and a little unsettling. How, after all, would we know how long to cook the burgers? A battery-operated timer came to the rescue, so the coup d’etat continued.
Earlier in the day I had taped over the clock on the microwave and the stove, the stereo and the house phone. The antique clock, it’s pendulum silenced, bore a facemask as well, crafted from doilies and a card reminding them that there is, “No time like the present.”
Words like “rest, reflect, breathe, and pause” were sprinkled over the rest of the electronic gadgets.
We filled our plates and settled around the table. Candlelight flickered in the center, and old songs from the summers of our youth drifted in from the Mp3 player on the kitchen counter. The happy hours passed. There were long discussions about adult children and old movies, favorite desserts and memorable moments. We’ve probably shared our “how did you meet” stories before, but it was wonderful to tell them all over again and gather more details that fill in the pictures of each other’s lives. We moved slowly from main course to dessert and coffee, and still the easy conversations rolled. I worried that my guests would tire, but as soon as the thought arose someone would tell another funny story and a second wind would blow through the room. It was wonderful to listen to the ebb and flow of conversation, the timbre of the voices I love so much. We poked fun at each other at just the right moments, and shared the beauty of God’s deep work in the difficult struggles. There was the moment of realization that the three men at the table share the common thread of kindness in their character. There was the women’s conversation about wanting to step into the calling of our hearts, and the fear of such a great leap. But leap, we must. There was joy, and connectedness. And chocolate. It was wonderful.
Feeling the length of the day stretch out in our bodies, we collectively decided that it was probably time to wrap up. The dishes were stacked in the kitchen and leftovers were wrapped for transport. Watches were gathered and strapped on wrists, and cell phones were shoved into pockets and purses. We hugged each other hard and promised to gather again in the near future. I hope so. I hope we’ll pull away together one day very soon. But even more than that my desire is that each of us, from time to time, will reflect on this night and decide to walk through a door without a phone or a watch to remind us of the passing of time, and live as though all the clocks have gone on vacation for a bit. If we can do that, then perhaps we’ll restore the connectedness we crave so deeply, and celebrate, in some small way, a little bit of heaven on earth.
As the last of the dishes were washed up and the lights doused, the house settled into the quietness of early morning hours. I padded barefoot through the rooms and began to lift the paper veils off of the clock’s faces. The suspension of time had truly lifted and the relentless tick and gong returned. I found myself awash with a mix of feelings, sadness for its return, and yet warmed with the joyous glow of memory making and friendship honored.
I pray, my friend, that you too will find a way today, to make a trade. I pray there will be less striving and more connectedness, less depletion and more filling. I pray there will be time for friendship shared, even if it’s a phone call instead of dinner. Our God is a God of relationship and restoration. Let’s step into all of the beautiful ways He wants to reveal His love for us and live a life overflowing with the joy of companionship, and shared story. Pick up the phone. Cover the clock. Light a candle and rest in the glow He has waiting for you. Breathe deep and stretch out the joy.
I promise you, my friend, you won’t regret it. Not for a moment.