You are in for a treat. Sara Clarke is such a gifted writer.
By daytime she works as a superhero for Young Life here in Jackson. She spends hours and hours a week teaching and raising up great leaders and she spends even more time pouring into high school friends.
But she also writes...VERY well. Just like her day job requires her to step out of her comfort zone and be willing to be vulnerable on behalf of Jesus...so does her writing. It is often scary to put some of your heart on paper and offer it for the world to see.
As I was reading this post I found myself saying OUT LOUD, "Oh my gosh, this is so good!"
I love this lady and am so thankful she was willing to write for Gathering Around!
Sara Clarke Boccarossa
The Beauty of a Backyard Cookout
You know those smells, sounds, and overall feelings that take you back to another time? Summertime is full of those for me. It might take second place to Christmas time, but the spring and summer seasons are always reminiscent of little moments in my life. The smell of our house reminds me of when we first moved in and spent so much time organizing and cleaning. The smell of grass takes me back to days by the pool while my parents mowed the lawn. Shorts and tank tops remind me of the memories made at summer camps. One of the most reminiscent parts of summer, though, is grilling. The smell of a grill in summertime takes me back to all the cookouts we had growing up and all the ones we’ve had since. It’s no surprise that my favorite summer gathering is a cookout in the backyard.
Since I’m only in my early twenties (does 24 still count as early?), our cookouts aren’t very fancy and everyone invited has to pitch in a little. I like it that way, though, because it feels like one big community coming together for something fun. To kick off our summer this year, we had several friends over to grill in our backyard. This is something my husband and I did a lot at his house the summer we were engaged, and I was so excited to have the first cookout at our house. Here’s how it works: we tell everyone to bring their own meat and a side. We provide the condiments, buns, drinks, utensils, and the grill. It’s really more like a backyard potluck.
As silly as it may sound, it turned out to be pretty fun seeing what kind of meat everyone brought. At this particular cookout, we had burgers, chicken, steak, salmon, and kabobs all cooking at once. It was somewhat of a metaphor for all the different personalities and stories gathered together that night.
The night was so fun as we all sat under our twinkle lights in the backyard waiting for the food to be ready. We had plenty to snack on since everyone brought chips, veggies, fruit, etc. We have a pretty small grill at our house, so everyone ended up eating at different times. Like I said, we don’t get too fancy. I think that’s why I liked it. Our house is almost always a casual environment. I’m sure there will be a day when fine china and candlelit dinners become appealing to me, but at this stage in my life I definitely prefer the laidback, “bring your own meat” kind of dinners with my friends.
I think that’s how dinners with Jesus would have been. Jesus is generally a pretty laid back guy. How many times in the gospels are the disciples and Jesus described as “reclining at the table?” I don’t picture that table with a linen tablecloth and fine china. I picture a ragtag group of friends lounging around a shared space, picking off of each other’s plates, and freely propping their elbows on the table. Maybe that’s why these casual dinners are so appealing to me. They’re reminiscent of stories I know from Scripture.
Whether you gather friends for a formal summer supper or a casual backyard potluck, you’re still gathering friends, and that’s what it’s all about. The food can be great and the environment can be perfect, but a real gathering is about the people. So gather your people, throw some meat on the grill, and share stories together. That’s what summer is all about.