I like busy kitchens.
I love busy kitchens. The clatter of dishes, the splash of water, the smell of simmering garlic and onion while we swing around each other and make the puzzle work.
We're gathering again on a Tuesday night. All the coffee accoutrements are in hand as I enter the house tucked on a quiet side street. It is time to cook, with only a few hours before everyone is due to arrive for dinner. Meat seasoned. Sauce simmering. Pasta boiling. We are twisting around one another at the sink, at the table, at the stove as we stir, sing, hum, sway and prepare.
Being with these people is a gift. I know this. I've known it, but in moments like these, when there are knocks at the door and the volume level of greetings rises above Frank Sinatra's "The Way You Look Tonight" on the stereo... I know it's a gift. To me, to all of us.
See, I've been thinking about life. (That should come as no surprise to you. When one spends time alone as much as I do, there's a whole lot of thinking.)
And really, I keep coming back to this:
We need each other.
We just do. We need each other to laugh, to listen, to talk, to just be.
Being a single mom is hard. No one is going to deny that.
And I've said it once, and I'll say it again — it's hard not because I'm a "single" mom. It's hard because I'm a mom. Being a parent is hard work. It's tears, giving, dying to self and a whole lot of gritting my teeth while I sleep. At the end of the day, I'm not falling into bed weary because I'm single. I'm weary because the days with a toddler are hard work. Good, worthy work. But still hard.
But then again, feeling alone can be hard.
Working a lot is exhausting.
Wrestling with fears is hard.
Wrestling with faith is hard.
Being a spouse is gritty work.
Worrying about the future wears down your soul.
You catch my drift?
We're all fighting tough battles. We're all moving in and out of the flow of joy and suffering, and sometimes the two are made complete in each other. Sometimes we're resting and worshipping, and other times we're quietly (or loudly) pounding our fists against the fallow earth.
So, it's in these moments.... when he's straining the pasta, I'm stirring the sauce and the room is a hum of names, stories of the day and jokes, that I am thankful that we need each other.
I am so glad that God knew it wouldn't be good for us to be alone. Community reminds me that no matter how this chapter ends, or how the next one begins, we are all fighting, pounding the earth and then breathing. We are rehearsing lines we think we ought to say, and then slowly letting walls down as we grow into ease.
Being together is more than just socialization; it's a way for our souls and hearts to acknowledge that being known is good.
Sharing food is meeting our hunger.
But seeing a face? Leaning in against a shoulder? Smiling at the door? Singing along to the same lyrics, laughing at the same joke, sipping on coffee and turning to the one at your side to whisper — that's feeding a hunger in our souls.
There are a lot of beautiful, amazing, funny, talented, sincere people in this world — and I keep meeting all of them.