I know it’s coming, but I’m not prepared.
Fill in the blank with “it.” It could be dinnertime each day. I’m not prepared to answer the daily question, “What’s for dinner?”
“It” could be the next difficult season up ahead, or it could the wildest season of joy.
Why do I assume it will be the worst? The truth is, life is often both at once, servings of delight mixed with grief.
I know the joy of fullness, the ache of emptiness, and the confusion of finding myself in a land of dry bones.
As I walk along the mountains and valleys of this physical life, I know this much: I don’t want to feast on this charcuterie alone, abundant with the sweet, sour, and savory, whether sumptuous or skimpy. I want the souls of others around me, feasting together in the buffet of this beauty-ravaged life.
Life is often both at once, servings of delight and grief.
Some of us are plotters—we plan ahead, write out each detail of the day, and manage schedules, events, tasks, and vacations as precisely as the atomic clock.
Some of us are flying by the seat of our pants, hoping and praying not to make a mess of it and spill it all on our shirts.
Maybe the rest of us fall somewhere in between.
No matter how much planning we do, we live in a world replete with unknowns. We know what we’ve scheduled across the landscape of a day, but we are unaware of the unexpected (both the welcome and unwanted) that await each of us.
In the past month alone, a 26-year-old I know died of cancer and a 12-year-old died in a tragic accident.
And that’s only a portion of it. I’ve laughed and cried and asked God hard questions in my own little dot on this planet, and no doubt, you’ve done the same.
I want the souls of others around me, feasting together in the buffet of this beauty-ravaged life.
Recently, I felt the melancholy feeling of returning from a full and wonderful event and stepping back into daily routines. There is both joy and an ache; a kind of loneliness that pervades my veins sometimes.
More than sometimes, if I’m honest. It exists in me, flowing through my days like a river, pushing me against the shores toward a greater belonging. I’m finding connections that remind me I’m not adrift or alone.
Sometimes our connections are like a widespread forest. We’re faraway but we have ways of sharing life-giving water and nourishing bread in deep ways, over distance.
In the vastness of social media and general online rubbish, I often feel invisible and alone, trying to be a “cool kid” amidst a throng of perfectly curated online personas.
Yet even there, amidst the dross and superficiality, I capture glimmers of hope of how we use these communication channels to feed each other across the miles, sharing words and stories that sustain us rather than suck us dry. We find ways to feast and commune, even with distance between us.
Recognition is the first human quest.
“Recognition is the first human quest,” writes Andy Crouch in The Life We’re Looking For. We emerge from the cocoon of our mothers’ wombs looking for another human face, for arms to hold us, for eyes that see us, for a voice that sings to us, for hands to feed us.
Babies want someone to hold them and to belong to someone. That first human face—that first connection—is a feast for the infant’s eyes.
We’re still looking for faces, and aching to belong. Our eyes are peering into one another’s, we’re still searching for one another, craving deeper connection, yearning for someone to wipe our tears, for hands to grasp, for shoulders to lean on, for someone to sing with and laugh with.
We need embodied friendship so we do not starve. We’re longing for companions and friends to journey with, those with whom we can share the beauty and trials of this life.
We know we will have hardship, but we want to feast on all of this, the bitterness of the hard, and the joy of the sweet, together.
We’re still looking for faces, and aching to belong.
Winds are blowing seeds that will burst and emerge in a blending of both joy and grief, and life holds a banquet of both. The wild plants of both sorrow and joy embed and grow in the soil of our hearts, and in the wilderness of this life—that much is guaranteed.
When one of us hurts, we all hurt. When one of us sings, we all sing. We commune on the trials of being human together.
This is how it should be, how we want it to be; this is our heart’s cry. “My humanity is caught up, is inextricably bound up, in what is yours,” said Desmond Tutu.
When one of us hurts, we all hurt. When one of us sings, we all sing. This is our heart’s cry.
This much I know: I don’t want to feast on all of this alone. I wasn’t meant to; none of us were meant to dine on a solitary island.
“This is the thing we need more than any other: a community of recognition,” writes Crouch. We want to be seen and known in all our humanity, in our full human experience.
We want to be seen and known in all our humanity, our full human experience.
Both sorrow and pain season our lives, and I don’t want to swallow those soups on this table alone.
I want to be with you and you to be with me. When there’s joy, I want to slice cakes of celebration with you. When there’s sorrow, I don’t want to partake of that repast alone. I want to savor all of these morsels with true and genuine friends.
Living life in the full and complete feast it was meant to be happens when we break bread together; when we’re walking in deep companionship and friendship. That’s a celebration; that’s a feast; that’s life as it was meant to be lived, tasting it all, together.
 Andy Crouch, The Life We’re Looking For: Reclaiming Relationship in a Technological World, (New York, Convergent Books, 2022), 3.
 I’ve said these things to you so that you will have peace in me. In the world you have distress. But be encouraged! I have conquered the world.” – John 16:33, CEB
 Crouch, The Life We’re Looking For, 154.
Header Image credit: Anto Meneghini for Unsplash
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Image source of three friends: Adrienn for Pexels
Image source of baby: Jason Sung for Unsplash
Image source of friends around table: fauxels for Pexels