Let me tell you about a miracle that happened last night. It happened in one of those warehouse-turned-apartments in Williamsburg because that's where my new friend Schuyler lives. That's the address we took two buses to find because the trains were a mess.
She's been here three months, a transplant from San Diego and she happened to be sitting behind me at church a few weeks back with her friend and recent transplant from Texas, Grace. Grace lives far from Williamsburg on the Upper West Side, but the two of them work at Patagonia in Manhattan. When I turned around for the "passing of the peace" we almost instantly talked like old friends. We followed up after the benediction and in those short 10 minutes we had exchanged numbers and agreed to throw a pretend thanksgiving party together.
I didn't try to temper the excitement I felt. It was more like we were reconnecting than just meeting for the first time, more like we couldn't wait to get back into the groove of friendship than just starting a series of awkward introductions.
Because this is usually how it goes:
"Hi, nice to meet you... what was your name?" "Caroline, yes so good to meet you - have we met before?"
"I'm not sure but good to meet you again, now what do you do?" "I work for a non-profit in Cypress Hills, working with middle school students. How about you?"
"I'm a freelancer (video editor, producer, photographer, actress, animator, painter)." "Wow, that's really cool!"
"Yeah, well good to meet you - again, I guess! We should get together sometime." "You too and that'd be great!"
It sounds pretty normal, if it only happened once. But it's a constant conversation in this city because how does anyone have time to follow up with people, to invest time and treasure, to sit down and listen to the longer version of stories? So, instead, we run into people at church or in the apartment hallways or at the corner store and we have these same conversations all over again.
The emails flew across the interwebs in preparation for our pretend thanksgiving. We shared the recipes we would be "trying out" (because everyone needs a practice run before setting the real Thanksgiving dinner table) and confirmed the date/time/address. Invitations went out to more people and our pretend thanksgiving party of practical strangers grew to ten.
Yes, strangers throw parties together and this is what the menu looks like when they do:
To Drink: Sierra Nevada Celebration Mulled Holiday Wine Pinot Noir
Appetizers: cheese and meat plates fresh sourdough bread bacon wrapped dates
Dishes to Pass: buttered, roasted chicken mashed maple sweet potatoes cornbread stuffing with mushrooms and herbs roasted butternut squash with brussel sprouts fresh bean and couscous salad
Desserts: Classic Pumpkin Pie Apple Pie a la mode
What makes this a miracle? you might say with your skeptical spectacles pulled down on your cynical nose. Well, let me tell you.
Ten brand new friends held hands around two pushed-together-tables last night to say grace over a delicious spread of humble, homemade offerings. Ten brand new friends laughed and toasted and slowly savored small kitchen victories on paper plates inside the concrete city that never sleeps. Ten brand new friends reclined with full bellies, drawing the joy of the night out into the morning.
This is a miracle.
God made a way for friendship - for ten new friends to linger over fellowship and to let laughter seep out the warehouse windows into the night.
He planned and ordained gatherings such as these before we ever made our first introductions. I imagine His delight as we act out the miracle He authored in friendship - as we celebrate around a table and enjoy one another.
Delight is the taste on my tongue this morning - Lord's delight and mine (I imagine) are intermingled as I think about the next menu, the next guest list of practical strangers, the next gathering to glorify the One who ordained friendship in the first place.
Coming soon: the Amelia Bedelia kitchen experience leading up to the pretend thanksgiving party.