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I’ll lay the table.

One of my favorite songs to listen to while I cook is “Sons and Daughters” by Allman Brown and Liz Lawrence.

and I’ll build a fire, you fetch the water
and I’ll lay the table
and in our hearts, we still pray
for sons and daughters
and all those evenings out in the garden—
red, red wine
these quiet hours turning to years

I love songs that tell stories in the same way I love poems that tell stories—the way you can feel more words echoing underneath what’s spoken. Here, I imagine a couple wanting something they do not yet have. Building a life, asking for children, listening to a quiet home. The insistence on hope and keeping it alive for the things we want deep down, even when days add up without them.

And I love what comes before the line in the chorus about sons and daughters, something that comes along right next to hope: laying the table, preparing for a meal. Splitting up the tasks, meeting again with something to share. Bringing something together when other things refuse to come together. Making something beautiful in the short-term in hopes of a beautiful long-term. Even while those quiet hours turn to years—while those quiet meals pass and night comes on and dishes rise in the sink—there had been creation. Completion.

There are times, to me, when cooking feels like a physical representation of hope: creating, preparing, trusting that something will come together to sustain me. Fresh ingredients—limes whose juices burst in little clouds above the rasp, peppers whose skin snaps when broken with a paring knife—bring life into my kitchen. Garlic sautéed in olive oil as the base of a pasta recipe brings warmth. Ice cracking in a glass as water is poured in renews.

I remember how we pray that God will bless our food “to the nourishment of our bodies.” I know that to mean physical nourishment, but I know it to mean more than that. And I know that cooking is capable of more than physical nourishment. It happens alongside the things we hope for constantly, those hopes that echo in our whole bodies.

Those hopes that may never be said out loud but are prayed for through measuring the flour, mixing the batter, watching bread rise in the oven.

Through laying the table.

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