Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Significance of a Feast

Food is a central part of culture and community. When I travel, a highlight is always finding local restaurants and experiencing a literal taste of where I am.

Several months ago, John and I watched the movie "Babette's Feast." I'd read the story written by Karen Blixen before, but the movie brought the words to life. If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it.

The story takes place in 19th-century Denmark and revolves around two elderly, pious Christian sisters Martine and Philippa. Their austere lifestyle begins to breakdown when their cook, Babette, spends all of her lottery winnings on preparing a Parisian meal for the sisters' congregation. At first the congregation refuses to indulge in such a sensual luxury, but gradually the rich, colorful, delicious feast breaks down the guests' hard hearts, resulting in reconciliation and redemption among the congregation.

I love the concept of a community dinner bringing people together, especially since it resulted from Babette's gratitude yet great sacrifice. Perhaps this is an example of a living sacrifice, pouring yourself out for others. We are made to enjoy God's creations, especially in the context of community, and "Babette's Feast" reminds me of the ultimate feast promised in heaven.

Yet what is also intriguing is that the original author of the story, Karen Blixen, suffered extreme health issues when writing this story of a feast, and she eventually died of malnutrition. It's uncertain whether her illness was syphilis as she claimed, and it's now mainly attributed to anorexia. It's somewhat shocking that someone struggling with anorexia could write such a vivid story about the redemptive healing from a feast.

However, I suppose that we can best relate to places in which we struggle. Sometimes the areas where I'm weakest are the ones I have the most perspective in and am able to empathize with others. "For when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Corinth. 12:10).

On a different note, I love how food brings people together. I enjoy setting the table for dinner parties and planning out menus for the week. I've recently been using Hen House Linens napkins.

I love brightly colored table settings- hence my love of Fiestaware!

On Labor Day, my grandmother gave me an entire bagful of place mats, cloth napkins, and tablecloths, so I've been playing around with different place settings, shown below.

Ultimately, I enjoy setting a nice (or colorful!) table because I love having a tableful of friends and neighbors. The community that results from eating a meal together is unparalleled.

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