Do small things with great love

If we have no peace it is because we’ve forgotten that we belong to each other. ~ Mother Teresa.

I think we’re all at the point where we can’t go on tiptoeing around current events on the political front, and I’m mostly speaking for myself. Here in Canada we’re affected – no longer a country on the sidelines. We’re feeling the tremors; they’re impossible to ignore.

Quebec became involved this weekend, when an admirer of President Trump took brutal action against the Muslim community. The unthinkable. As a result, six families are fatherless and many more ravaged by fear and worry as their loved ones lie in hospital. And hate crimes spiked in Montreal today, because intolerance breeds intolerance, and it cannot be contained by borders or governments.

Nothing gives us the right as humans to judge each other based on race, religion, gender or orientation. We are all equal and all connected. We all have value.

For a long time I’ve felt the urge to reach out. To speak out. But how? And what to say? It’s overwhelming. The world is darkening. Self-care in this tumultuous time is needed, and then, as much as we are able, we must act. If we do nothing – say nothing – about injustice, intolerance and hate, then we become part of the problem. I feel this keenly.

I’m at home with small children every day, and can’t easily get out to protest or attend a vigil to show solidarity. But I can cook and feed people. I can listen. I can spark conversation and engage one-on-one or family-by-family.

ALL photos by Tim Chin

My dining room table has a high turnover, especially in these cold winter months, but I admit, these gatherings are mostly friends and family. In the coming weeks, however, this will change. I’ve given over my address, phone number, and the number of chairs around my table to the trusted organizers of Food Bloggers of Canada and they will be helping me fill those seats with people who are outside my circle but in my neighbourhood.

I’ll host a pot-luck or two and who knows what will come of it, but the effort must be made. Is the thought of welcoming strangers into my home daunting? A little, but I am ready to be shaken up. At this point, one month into the year, this feels like the right thing to do.

Food brings us together like no other medium, and so I challenge you to throw open your doors and invite people over for dinner. Fill up your table with folks from all sorts of different backgrounds and walks of life. Celebrate your uniqueness; respectfully discuss your differences. Toast your distinct cultures.

Perhaps in doing so you will discover that while you are diverse, you are not so very different after all. Food has a way of bringing people together and leveling the field.

It is in the shelter of each other that the people live.’ ~ Irish Proverb

When we invite others into our home, we offer a sanctuary. It is our time and our efforts that we offer up, as well as a listening ear. Here, community is built. Neighbours are connected. Friendships become cemented. These face-to-face connections are invaluable in our current fast-paced digital world, where Facebook rants dominate our feeds and the tone of our friend’s comments can be hard to decipher.

The right words, in the right tone, can change hearts and minds. The right words can hold sway. Talk to those around you, even those who are on the opposite ‘side’. We are all connected. We are all affected. Isn’t the hallmark of democracy hearing each other out and allowing for the respectful exchange of opinions?

And above all, listen.

Getting back to gathering folks for dinner: it doesn’t have to be anything fancy. In fact, the less formal the better. The scraps of ordinary life slung around a home remind us all of our transitory existence. If we’re not opening our door in an attitude of graciousness, then what is the point? I call it hospitality: when the focus shifts from you, the host (and a perfectly set table), to the guest and their comforts. For me, this is the simple difference between entertaining and hospitality. Less show and more soul.

“We cannot all do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” ~ Mother Teresa.

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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  1. Wow! Beautifully written and well said. What a great reminder. Another inspiring post was from Alana in her blog “eating from the ground up.” Both of these posts have calmed me down and helped bring me back to center. I too have woken from my comfort of complacency to rise to the occasion to bring light and to use have power I whatever to fight back the dark encompassing all. Thank you.

  2. Thank you. The world needs more of this.

  3. Aimee. You have just inspired me to invite a family to dinner. We are new/rekindled friends. During the election the husband sent some very angry and insulting texts to my husband, who was crushed. This was a 40 year friendship. We stopped communicating. Our friend has since apologized, but it’s been hard ,given the current climate, to think about reaching out, we seemed so far from each other in mindset. I am determined now to set it aside, not be a part of the divided and welcome them into our home for a meal. I would not have considered this if not for your post. Bravo and thank you.

    • This is so amazing and encouraging to hear, Kim. You are very brave to reach out and I applaud your efforts in this situation. I’d say the ball is in their court. I hope your gesture is well received.

      Thank you for taking the time to let me know.

      • Aimee, when I texted my husband this morning to tell him what I had decided, he said” that is a very good idea and I love you. ”
        Win/win ?

  4. gourmet goddess says

    beautiful and succint !

  5. Just imagine if we all acted in this way….I am so proud of you for speaking your truth and leading this conversation. I’m over here struggling and feeling disheartened by what is happening in our nation. I am trying to support the things I am worried about though and take action and not speak hurtful words. We need more of this- action and compassion are the only ways we are going to be able to move forward. I love you, my friend!

  6. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Beautifully written and I couldn’t agree more. I decided I can’t be silent anymore either. What is happening is NOT normal and NOT ok. Silence and inaction kills. So we need to stand up and fight – even if it’s just with words. Hugs to you.

  7. I never used to comment i have started too,i feel now it is so important that people know you support them.i am leaving a lot of brave women messages this week.Fantastic post.As we have seen words have power,keep it up!

  8. Yes! This!

  9. Like many others, I am heartsick. My expectations of the new administration were low but I underestimated how bad it was going to be. I like the tone and attitude of your post. Modeling respectful behavior for others AND OUR CHILDREN is doing something constructive. Our family get-togethers are fraught with tension these days with people feeling passionate/unheard/disrespected on both sides. I re-instituted the old rule that politics or religion are not suitable topics for the dinner table. After dinner, go for it and argue away but the dinner table is neutral ground. My observation was that a full tummy and being around others who were also minding their manners blunted some of the vitriol. Truly, I don’t think our extended family could have gotten through the holidays without having that rule in place.

  10. Thank you for speaking out. It is better to build a longer table than a higher wall.

  11. Kate Sochacki says

    Amazingly well written! As a mom myself, I am wondering what I can do to make a difference and your idea of offering up your kitchen and dining room is a wonderful idea.

    Thank you so much for your bravery and courage in posting this and know that so many of us across the border in the U.S. feel the same way.

  12. Beautiful post. Always choose kindness. You are so very inspiring.

  13. Thank you for adding your voice to the resistance of hate and the upholding of love. We are the majority!
    The only blogs I’ll unsubscribe to these days are those that aren’t brave enough to speak out against this horrible evil.
    …..a suggestion to those who are criticizing Aimee with their delusional comments:
    Put down the cooking and pick up a newspaper and a history book!

  14. Thank you.. from the bottom of my heart. As a volunteer with the Canadian Red Cross I spent many weeks welcoming Syrian refugees to Victoria. I heard their stories and cried with them, hugged tired moms and rocked babies. They all wanted the same things we want – for their children to be safe and grow up in a place they can thrive. Over the last year I have come to count many as friends and it has been wonderful to watch their journey. They really do appreciate the kindness of strangers. They have already been through so much and a gesture such as a meal or even a smile in the grocery store makes them feel safe and welcome.

  15. Beautiful words, beautiful ideas, beautiful actions.

  16. Brian @ A Thought For Food says

    Amen, Aimee. Sometimes it is hard to know what to do during these times… but it can be little gestures that make all the difference. By opening your home and bringing strangers together, you’re opening minds. That’s a beautiful thing.

  17. Thank you for this, Aimee. I share the sentiment of many of your readers and just want to show support for this post. Gracious, as always, your words were well chosen.

  18. La Torontoise says

    Aimee, so inspirational! Thank you!!

  19. Janine L says

    This post is so spot on for today. Thank you for sharing. I’d love to hear how your dinners went. That is very intriguing.

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