I’m at introvert at heart.  I need my alone time, and I need it daily.  I’ve even built into my daily schedule time in the morning and at night where it’s just me.  This ensures that I can have the emotional energy to be around people the rest of the day.

But as much as I can spend time by myself and be just fine, I find that if I’m alone without the option of having someone around, I get lonely.  Does that make sense?  I really only like to be by myself when it is by choice, not by circumstance.  For example, there is really only one person here that I spend any amount of time with, and her schedule is almost the opposite of mine this semester.  So on days like today, when she is at work and I am home all day, I kind of feel abandoned.  This is silly because I know I am seeing her tonight.  But it doesn’t change how I feel during the day.

I don’t remember feeling this way before undergrad.  But at Prairie, I lived in true community with my friends.  There was always someone to be with, someone to study with, to go out with, to experience life with.  I also had a group of friends there (The Family) that I spent most of my time with.  We made up slogans to bolster our togetherness: “The family that goes to the Post together, stays together,” and “The family that eats together, stays together.”  I really do think the second one has something to it.

Throughout the Bible and ancient cultures, you can see eating meals together as a very significant experience.  Eating meals together brings people together, shows goodwill, creates bonds.  I do not think I am overstating my case, but perhaps understating it.  Food plays an important part in most cultures and encounters.  Queen Esther, when she was going before King Xerxes, invited him to two banquets before presenting her case for the Jews.  Many of the Jewish celebrations are marked by meals.  Jesus introduced the Eucharist as part of the Passover Meal, and the early church celebrated it during meals for many years thereafter.  Paul spoke of these meals in 1 Corinthians when he chided the rich for eating the food (and partaking of the Eucharist also) before the poor could arrive.  Even celebrations today are frequently marked by partaking of food together, whether it be as simple as chips and soda or as elaborate as a five course meal.

I eat almost all of my meals alone.  And I feel very strongly that I am missing out on an essential part of community when I do so.  This is probably why I take the chance as often as I can to include others in my meals, to cook for them, to enjoy the company of someone other than myself.  So if you live where I live, and you want me to feed you (or to feed me), let me know.

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