During the past week I have had several great meals. The combination of awesome food, good ambience, and most importantly great company came together for series of evenings that I will remember for a long time. As I reflect on the time spent with friends it is clear that the conversation we shared was the most important ingredient. Great food is just so-so if the people you share it with are not asking the questions of life. Good ambience cannot be appreciated if the people under its spell are in conflict. Words shared in trust, grabbling with the real questions of life, and exploring the opportunities around us are what life is really about! These are the ingredients that make everything different.
“Words satisfy the mind as much as fruit does the stomach; good talk is as gratifying as a good harvest.” (Proverbs 18.21)
Let me set the scene. An obscure storefront on Elizabeth Street in New York with clear glass hints at the unmarked restaurant within. Coming in the front doors gives you hints; quiet yet busy waiters tending tables bathed in candle light and the echoes of the open oak-fired oven at the rear. The permeating smell of rosemary and other herbs coats the immediate space around every entrant. The menu of twenty-two items is quickly explained by the waitress who talks as if she is your long lost younger sister. As awesome as this is the conversation that followed made everything different. I remember the food and experience, but only in context of the conversations.
A second storefront over on Clinton yielded a similar setting and experience. Fantastic food, great service, and unusual scenery pales in my memory as I recall the questions posed by a friend that I still wrestle with within. Even the unusual dessert, a pumpkin cheesecake flan beyond description, takes second place with the words and caring expressed through the evening.
Ingredients are the crux of life. God offers us words; real, tangible, and life changing. Listen, listen well and walk seeking the experience they represent. Recreation will come.