The thing I am most thankful for today is the culture of 28 years of my life–Louisiana culture! You cannot beat the culture and hospitality of my home state.
Louisiana is known for its food, its music, its joie de vivre (Joy of Living), its people. I did not realize just how unique and special LA culture was until moving away from it last year. I find myself this time of year reminiscing and missing my home!
I think Rebecca Wells captured the defining characteristics of our culture well in her book The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder when she said, “People in New Orleans….adore anything that we can do with our mouths- eating, drinking, talking, and singing”. While I am not from New Orleans, I believe this statement encompasses our lifestyle pretty well. My most fond memories and images of Louisiana are all centered on gatherings with lots of talking, laughing, joking, and of course eating!
The thing I miss most about all of this is how easily and readily people opened up their homes and their lives to you. You were always welcome at people’s homes to enjoy a cup of coffee, a pot of gumbo, a crawfish boil, a new tasty recipe on the grill, a dessert, a fish fry, and some treasured home-made creation. People’s homes were opened to allow room for you to sit and have a good conversation. All of these moments modeled hospitality for me. They show me what it means to welcome people into our home, to invite people to be part of our life, and to gather people in celebration. All of these moments help form community. It is these gatherings that I miss the most from back home—whether it be with my family, with my friends, or with the strangers I met at someone’s house.
Somehow in these gatherings space was created for relationships to grow, for questions to be asked, and for the deeper topics of life to be discussed. The conversations that often arose from these gatherings led to late-night talks that left you fulfilled, energized, and awakened to a new understanding.
Louisiana culture reminds me of how Jesus gathered others around meals. He provided room for relationships to grow both with Him and with others. He provided room for people to deepen their awareness both about themselves and their Maker. The gatherings Jesus modeled are still happening in our lives today. Whether they are around a family dinner table, a tail-gate with friends, a drink or cup of coffee with someone—these gatherings still occur.
While I miss my home-town gatherings with familiar people and of course familiar food, these gatherings are becoming more frequent in my life here in Georgia. And for that, I am also thankful!
Where are these gatherings in your life?