a feast for a funeral…

Babette, a woman who just lost everything in Paris, is sent to live with two sisters.  They are leaders of a small, dying (and quarrelling) religious sect that still follow the teachings of their late father.  They are devout, puritanical, giving up everything to stay true to all they believe and they welcome Babette with open arms.  For fifteen years, Babette serves them in their home without pay so they can continue their work of caring for those around them.  And then she wins the lottery and the sisters are saddened as they expect her to leave.  Instead she offers them a feast…one that requires the finest ingredients sent from abroad, including a live tortoise and birds.  The followers, who have lived a life of poverty so that they can give to others and who are used to bland servings of food, are unsure what to do with Babette’s offer and decide that they will endure the food and throughout the meal will not say a word.  But the more they taste the more they are overcome by the meal…and with food so succulent and wonderful, they soon are talking, laughing…and healing.

Babette’s Feast is a Danish film…the kind with English subtitles and written by the person on the top of my list that I would’ve loved to meet and just talk to.  By the end of the movie you learn that Babette had once been a top Parisian chef, well-known for her culinary arts.  While she gave such a gift to the people, she was motivated by her expression of that art.  I couldn’t stop thinking about Babette tonight…

Monday night, I helped out in the teahouse.  It was a special function…a meal for a family that just buried their wife, mother, sister, etc.  She had suffered from dementia for years but at the service preceding, the husband got up and said, I know she had faults but standing here right now, I can’t think of any of them.  They walked in with emotional exhaustion glazing over their eyes.  Karyn, was serving them roast beef with gravy, roasted potatoes, carrots with ginger and honey, this wonderful assortment of vegetables cooked with sherry, salad…all gluten and lactose free at their request, except for one dressing.  She seemed to be improvising as she worked.  Along with the Mango Mousse and huge fruit salad, she even baked a chocolate gluten-free cake that turned out to be beautiful despite its lack of fluffiness…of course, she’s not used to mixes as her delectable food is usually made from scratch.  She’s a Babette of sorts as they entered the pacific surroundings of the teahouse and began to taste the food…you heard talking, laughing and hopefully a bit of healing.

But the moment of significance came when in the midst of the chopping, pouring, heating and icing, I asked her if she always liked to cook.  She replied, “NO! …and I still don’t.  I was the one who played the piano and read my books while my sister cooked in the kitchen with my mother.  But for me, the blessing isn’t in the cooking.”  and this from a woman who does no less than cook a Thanksgiving size meal for a small crowd…every weekend.  I guess she’s not completely ‘Babette’…but perhaps that a ‘better’ thing.

Some friends and I were recently having the discussion about just that thing…how much do you search out opportunities that align with what you know are your gifts, abilities…those things which come natural to you.  Do you resist and reject those things that you know would be harder, just on that basis?

That’s why I loved Karen’s answer.  Watching Karen work, listening to her passion for the future of the Tea House, and at anytime observing anyone who is spending time there, I would never doubt her calling.  She blesses through her work…and that that work isn’t something that has been her lifelong pursuit or even interest reminds me that this isn’t about me but only giving glory to the God that has put the work in front of me.  I need to be reminded that I’m just a branch…that only through being connected with the vine, might I provide the fruit of words, laughter and hopefully a bit of healing…








3 thoughts on “a feast for a funeral…

  1. Thank you so much, both for the words here and for your willingness to volunteer your time and energy and to extend your love to this unknown family who so desperately needed a safe haven that evening.

    I know beyond a doubt that the reason I can extend love and grace to other people through the TH is because so much has been extended to me. Of course, the ultimate grace is the gift from God; but on this earth, He has given me so many people who have been His messengers, who have been reminders that I am not alone and that I have all I need and to spare. You were one of those on Monday evening. And then again on Saturday when you brought me the beautiful artwork for the TH you touched me again.

    My prayer for the TH has always been that it will be a haven and a place of acceptance and love and peace and will glorify the One Who has given me so much acceptance and love. It’s summed up in the prayer on the entryway wall just as you walk into the TH.

    I am so glad that your and my branches are intertwining as we seek to grow on the vine together!

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