Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Guest at Our Tables

"Hope is always a guest at our table."

That line is from Redwood and Wildfire, Andrea Hairston's fantasy novel set in Georgia and in Chicago in the early twentieth century. It was not my typical read; Sam is the one who put the book in my hands and suggested I would enjoy it. (I did, which is why I love it when my children (you too, Alise) give me book titles, as their interests range wider than what I typically read.)  In the book, those words were in the mouth of Clarissa, an African American woman living in Chicago in the early 1900s, speaking of the long road for racial equality. She says them quietly to Redwood, her sister-in-law, who is discouraged by the never ending racial violence that has followed her from backwoods Georgia to Chicago. When Redwood says she has no hope of anything ever improving, Clarissa chides her gently, saying "hope is always a guest at our table."

Hope is always a guest at our table.

I love that line. I love it so much I wrote it out and put it up on our refrigerator. I love to think of Hope, who I picture as a calm, graceful woman, joining us at supper every night.

I think Hope has been gracing a lot of tables lately.

As Amy heads into her fourth week here, she is calmer and less volatile. By her own admission, she is eating and sleeping better. She is starting to look at the bookshelf and pull interesting titles off to look through, perhaps to read. Bit by bit, she is settling in, interacting more, coming and going with the calm assurance that when she returns, she is still welcome and there is a stable roof over her head.

Hope is always a guest at our table.

Next door, Pete and Nancy, retired and just turning 80, have taken in their two teenage grandchildren who were suddenly in desperate need of a stable home. Pete and I talked yesterday and he expressed the hope that he and Nancy would stay healthy until both children graduated from high school. Chuckling, he talked about the changes in their household: the new schedules, the increased grocery bill, the homework spread across the dining room table. Bit by bit, their grandchildren have started to adjust: settling in, getting involved in school, coming and going with the calm assurance that when they return, they are still welcome and there is a stable roof over their heads. 

I bet Hope is always a guest at their table, too.

When the grandkids arrived, there were not enough bikes to go around. I offered Sam's old bike, which he has long outgrown, to the grandson, who has not yet hit his growth spurt and is at that in-between middle school size that some boys linger in for a long time. It fit him well. He sent me a thank you note: Thank you for the bike, I love it and always love riding it, I will always take care of it.

"I will always take care of it." I think Hope goes along for the ride when Pete and Nancy's grandson takes off to explore his new neighborhood.

The weather is changing, reminding us that autumn is almost upon us. I did a lot of household work this weekend, canning and freezing food for the winter yet to come. I baked a pie last night with apples from our local Farmers Market. The apples were described only as "the best bakers," so I am looking forward to the results since I didn't recognize the apple. The kitchen filled with the scent of apples and cinnamon; the sweet smells wrapped around us each time we walked into the house from the outside. 

                            Eat honey, dear child - it's good for you -
                            and delicacies that melt in your mouth.
                            Likewise knowledge,
                            and wisdom for your soul -
                            Get that and your future's secured,
                            your hope is on solid rock.
                                                                Proverbs 24: 13-14 (The Message)

Both Amy and the children next door are gaining the knowledge - the security - that their homes are now stable. When you take that worry off of the table, then it is easier to think beyond the immediacy of "where am I sleeping (or eating, or doing homework) tonight?" Perhaps they can now start to plan for a better future. Perhaps now their hopes are on solid rock. 

We will cut the pie tonight. It is a delicacy that will melt in our mouths. Hope will be right there with us when we take that first bite.

Hope is always a guest at our table.


Marcia said...

This is beautiful, April. Your posts often seem to be small gifts to your readers. Thank you for sharing your life; I look forward to each posting and check daily to see if you have written again.

Michelle DeRusha@Graceful said...

I just love this, April. Your writing soothes me. And there is so much HOPE and solace here, in these stories of giving and receiving.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I love to imagine "Hope" as an actual woman sitting down to enjoy a bite of that delicious pie. I know that the new members of our household are slowly relaxing and it has certainly perked up our daily routine.

see you there! said...

I love the quote and the image of the woman sitting with you. Your stories of the young people give me HOPE. There seem to be so many that age in need these days.


Sharon said...

Wow. I agree with Michelle, you have a fabulous "soothing" writing style.

How wonderful that Amy has you and Warren. I've been finding out more and more that the friends my kids have lead very different lives...harder, dysfunctional. It's very sad...no dinner time table to even have hope at. My kids are noticing...Many times my daughter will invite a friend over for dinner. It's a new experience for them to sit at a dinner table.

That pie looks delicious. It's time to buy that oven....

Jackie said...

I also agree with Michelle. Your writing just draws me in and I relax as I read your words. I'm so glad Amy has the both of you. What a blessing you are to her.


Susan DiMickele said...

I love this line too. I've never heard it before.

Thanks for this today.