Meals shape us. When I think about the meals and tables that have shaped my life, one that quickly comes to mind is breakfast at Embry’s. I don’t know what led me to call her by her last name--maybe the “Mrs.” part was too difficult to pronounce for a toddler, but Embry was the sweet, sweet woman who cared for me while my mother taught school. She made me breakfast, lunch and an afternoon snack each day of the school year until I was old enough to attend school with Mom. By the time I came into her life, Embry was the mother of nine adult children. Along the way, I lost count of the number of grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Embry’s eat-in kitchen was tiny, especially with her Early American dinning room table squished into the corner. But when she got out the flour can and started singing country hymns as she patting out the biscuits, it was like a dinner bell that could be heard by what seemed like all of the Embrys throughout the county. Then again, maybe it was the aroma of bacon grease that lured them in. Regardless, the storm door would start slamming, as, one by one, they would come to that table and take a seat. With each “Hey, Mamaw,” she would get another thin Corelle plate down from the cabinet, and serve them the best coffee, eggs, biscuits, bacon, sausage and gravy ever served anywhere. By then, she had been honing her craft for decades, having retired as the head of an elementary school cafeteria that was known for making their delicious baked goods (and many other items) from scratch.
I never once heard her complain about the pile of dishes or the work that went into it all. She must have spent half of her Social Security check on groceries, but to her it was a deep joy, as she connected with each of her family members and got their days started off with love. There was always, always room for another plate at that little table.
Thank God for the Embrys of this world who show us the way.
written by Rachel
Set a table, invite Christ and others, leave an empty chair, serve up some powerful questions, and break bread.