Chowder, in its Western-New-York unique way, is something simple and wonderful. In the parish I serve, chowder is a part of the monthly community ritual that has come down from generation to generation to do what chowder does best - feed the hungry and connect people.
While it may not be surprising for those that know me, but I love to connect with people AND I love food. So earlier tonight, when I was invited to stay for a bowl of chowder at a church member's home - I was delighted and the recipient of a lovely blessing.
The chowder was wonderful. The carrots, potatoes, celery and corn danced in a tomato broth with tender pieces of chicken and beef dancing around my spoon. I heard about the origin of the recipe for this "chowder", I met some of the family's extended members, I learned how chowder was and is woven into the humble but persistent culture of feeding people with food and friendship.
The space this chowder dinner created allowed all around the table to share stories of hope and challenge - and fill my own need to be "with" people.
It did not pass my attention either, that there was an empty place at the table...
it reminded me of the fact that there a many people that long for a community to sit and eat and share life with. This space also reminded me of a tradition some have to leave a place vacant at the dinner table as a reminder that God is there with us.
I am thankful for chowder dinner.
I am thankful for having a place at the table.
I pray that all find a table to share with someone and I'm amazed how God is always present - even when I take it for granted.