The Rev. Twila Smith
Grace & Mediator, Allentown 

“If your brother or sister is being injured by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. Do not let what you eat cause the ruin of one for whom Christ died.”
– Romans 14:15

When I set out on my longest pilgrimage, food was a concern. Three decades ago, I made a decision to abstain from meat as a simple, daily action toward living as I believe. While the choice has been good for me, I do not expect others to eat as I do. Accepting the hospitality of pilgrimage meant receiving meals offered, especially from the people who took me in each night. Still, I didn’t want to make a fuss.

To be in relationship, though, I have to ask for what I need. And I want to give love and support, but I cannot know what that looks like for you until we communicate: bidding, inquiring, listening, responding.

To this day, I get all weepy thinking about the privilege and delight of sharing meals with so many kind, generous people. They heard my need and poured their love out on the table. I yearned to hear what was important to them and, in asking, hearts opened to share even more. We strangers became friends over favorite family curries, fresh-picked salads, homemade bread, tables laden with abundance, and conversation deep into the night.

Through it, I was reminded of that even more lavish gift we have all received. Long ago, God heard the pleas of his people – the groans, the cries, the needs – and responded with the One who continues to call us to the table to feast together, to be loved.

My friends understood. They reminded me that, on this pilgrim way, a simple “ask” may bring more than we can ever imagine.