Thursday, November 25, 2010

Day 15: An open table

On one of my last weekends in Nairobi I had plans to meet my friend Kevin at an open house for a local charity run by a Rotarian. Kevin was working so he had his brother pick me up with a plan to drop off some other relatives and then pick Kevin to continue to the event around 2 p.m. BUT, t.i.K...(this is Kenya) and at 7:00 p.m. I found myself still at the first stop (having already had tea, chips, sausage and cake) about to sit down to a prodigious feast. I didn't really understand until after we left at around 9:00 p.m. (mind you, without Kevin - who was still at work - even though he was my only connection to this group) what this visit was all about. It turns out that Kevin's aunt was visiting her granddaughter who was born shortly before her son was killed. The girl had just turned four and it was a day for her grandparents to come together, pray for strength as they raised their grand kids and celebrate the legacy of a life lost (and another, the mother, who lived far away in search of a better job in Singapore). I was a random visitor invited and encouraged because I simply happened to be there. I was welcomed in.

My mom hosts Thanksgiving every year in our family. I treasure this day because we celebrate an open table policy as well - each year there is always a person or two who is traveling through or finds they are at an overladen Thanksgiving table in our house for the first time. There are also the oldest and truest of family friends who share this holiday with us, and there are always a few spots where someone is missing (in recent years it has been me among others). This year I will relish in the warmth of a love-filled house and having many of my nearest and dearest within arms reach. I will also be soberly aware of those who are not with us for one reason or another and say a prayer that someday the following will ring true for all, "Forever on Thanksgiving day the heart will find the pathway home."

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