Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Everyday Hospitality and Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist
I recently read Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist and it has gotten me thinking about the charism and ministry of hospitality in our day-to-day life.
In Bread & Wine Niequist has created a compilation of essays and her favourite recipes that come together in a wonderful and insightful food memoir of sorts. She talks about the importance of food, hospitality and entertaining and how closely these things intertwine with relationship, community, and sharing faith and love.
I enjoyed the read, but maybe had higher expectations than what the book delivered. This may be because I thought this was going to be a little more hands-on, more of a guide to learning to love cooking and entertaining, or how to embrace more hospitality. And although her spiritual insights were inspiring and very true, I couldn't help but think, "This is such a Catholic concept, yet she's writing as if it's an amazing new discovery!" Which is a thought that occurs to me often when reading evangelical Christian books, and not with an attitude of snobbery, reveals to me yet another way in which all truth is Catholic.
Recent holy Catholics like Catherine Doherty and Dorothy Day have believed strongly in all the aspects of hospitality feeding the soul and nurturing those in need at a most basic level, as well as a long Catholic tradition and ministry of feeding the hungry and clothing the naked which has led to a very deep tradition of the virtue and beauty of hospitality.
I really enjoy entertaining, cooking, hosting, throwing a good party. But I know it's not everyone's cup of tea, and I think this book is good for encouraging those who may feel hesitant. The book makes the point that we shouldn't be trying to impress, but trying to minister and love those we invite into our home. We really build relationship and community with those we share food with, and opening our home is builds this strong community through casual meals and get-togethers. We should maybe be pushing outside our comfort zones a little to create something that builds a culture of people who want to spend time with one another, enjoy each other's company, celebrate each other's goals and share each other's sorrows.
Niequist's style of entertaining and hospitality isn't quite as the same as mine however. While I may dream of creating luxurious evening dinner parties consisting solely of adults while not having to serve toddler food, what happens in reality is usually hosting for more than 10 people with the majority of guests being under the age of 10. I wish this type of entertaining would be more elegantly thought of because it doesn't have to be complicated or fancy, but it can still be delicious and flavourful while done with easy style. We shouldn't cut ourselves off from entertaining because our families and circles of friends are larger than the norm. It's an important way can we minister to each other as families, and continue to build a more family friendly and Catholic culture for ourselves and our children.
Niequist's attitude and love of food is contagious. I hope I can put her beautiful attitude about sharing her love of others, journeying with friends and family through life and all it's difficulties, and just enjoyment of eating and cooking into practice.
Are you a food memoir-aholic like me? Or does the idea of cooking and cleaning and entertaining more than your kids leave you moving towards the couch?
Joining the Housewifespice love of What We're Reading Wednesday.
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