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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Comments

  1. Beautiful post. Thank you

  2. Ashley Rodriguez says

    YES! Fill the table. Love this.

  3. God bless You and Your family ! I send You all of my love and respect !

  4. Awesome post.

  5. Thank you, Aimee. I, too, have reached the tipping point. It’s time to speak out. And you’re right: throwing open our doors and feeding people is a huge leap in the right direction. xo!

  6. Such a lovely post. Like you, I struggle with what to say or do in these times. I’m an American living overseas right now, and it is so disheartening to watch from a distance and feel powerless to change anything.

  7. Thank you, Aimee.

  8. Thank you for this post.

  9. Anti-Muslim feelings did not originate with Trump. They’ve been building for years because of the way that some Muslims act. None of President Trump’s policies are specifically anti-Muslim. They are anti-Islamic terrorist.

    Because some wacko misinterprets and does something terrible doesn’t mean Trump is guilty of anything. He’s just a very convenient scapegoat. John Hinckley Jr attempted to assassinate President Regan because he thought Jodie Foster would like that. Does that mean Regan was guilty? This Canadian mosque shooter also liked Katy Perry. Does that make HER the problem?

    I get your emails for recipes, not for politics. Unsubscribed.

    • Same here, I agree with Jennifer. Well put. Unsubscribed.

    • I’m going to have to agree. I think it is inappropriate to call out President Trump and implicate him in this horrific act. Everything you meant to convey could have been communicated without calling out someone unrelated to these killings. Seems to go against the general message that you were trying to send. Isn’t the hallmark of democracy hearing each other out and allowing for the respectful exchange of opinions?

    • We can’t know for sure what the man charged with the shootings was thinking. But we do know that Trump has emboldened people who hold racist views. He is attempting to normalize causal disdain for Muslims, journalists, environmentalists, and anyone who disagrees with him. This is not normal, and not right, and Aimee has very appropriately showed this connection.

      Perhaps instead of unsubscribing because you disagree, you could continue to engage and discuss with those around you who hold differing opinions? (After all, this was Aimee’s point).

      I support you Aimee. Thank you for this post.

    • I have to, respectfully, disagree with your argument against this blog post. You don’t think Trump should be help accountable for spreading messages of hate, but yet you think all Muslims should be responsible for the actions of some radicals? If that is what you really believe, then why aren’t you holding all white people responsible for the actions of our own radicals, many of whom are proud white supremacists, for murdering people in this mosque in Quebec, for burning down mosques in the US and for murdering people in a church in South Carolina last year? I’m sorry, but your logic is very one-sided and therefore doesn’t make any sense to me. Radicals are radicals, no matter their race or religion. We need to love and care about all people, not just those that look like us or pray like us. I thank you for posting your feelings and I hope you will do the same for me. We need to talk to one another, not simply talk at each other, and not tune out or “unsubscribe” when we disagree.

      I’m a longtime reader, but first time commenter, and I want you to applaud you, Mrs. Bourque, for your bravery and willingness to speak up. We cannot be silent now, no matter how difficult it may be sometimes. Thank you again, from the bottom of my heart.

  10. Such a wonderful idea! I was so upset by the news in Quebec, a city that I love. We are all one family. I was fully prepared to help a Syrian family being sponsored by one of my neighbors by opening up my home and hosting a meal but sadly, that seems like it won’t be happening, at least not anytime soon. All we can do is keep showing kindness and love to each other, in all ways, big and small.

  11. Thanks for a very thoughtful & lovely post. We really do have to remember we are all one & have the same or similar thoughts, fears & hopes. Kudos to you for acting on your beliefs!

  12. Thank you for your beautiful words, Aimee. I have felt as if I am watching everything I thought my country stood for crumble into fear and hatred. I too am fearful and it is easy to succumb to the negative outlook and hopelessness these times bring. I applaud your efforts to bring a little bit more light, love, and understanding into the world – we could all use some more conversations free of judgment and full of listening.

  13. Wendy Rhein says

    This brought tears to my eyes. It was beautiful and so very true. Our tables can be sanctuaries and safe spaces to share ideas and fears. I work for an organization that supports Sunday Suppers to talk about issues of race, inequity, and divide in America and having hosted a handful at home, with strangers and friends alike, I can say it is a truly incredible experience.

    • Wendy, that sounds like an incredible organization, and obviously, you get this post. Thank you for giving back and for all that you do. Keep it up.

  14. Beautiful post and reminder to take those small steps.
    I absolutely love the quote!

  15. Shawnna Griffin says

    Hey girl- great post! We have to always put everything in God’s hands!

  16. Thoughtfully written… thank you. Whereas it takes a village to raise a child, perhaps it takes a village – or community – to make peace throughout our beautiful world. Peace be with you xo

  17. I haven’t been able to find the words to describe how I’ve been feeling lately. I wake up everyday with knots in my stomach, afraid and anxious of what’s to come, and what the current political landscape will mean for our future, for my son’s future. It’s hard to get over that fear and move forward, but we must. It’s hard to find time in our busy daily lives to open our arms doors to new people, new friends, but we must. It’s the only way we’ll get through this and build a more hopeful future, a better world. Lots of love <3

  18. Thank you for speaking out. The bloggers that I follow that aren’t addressing the current climate are not being honest with themselves or their readers (regardless of what political stripes they wear). I had a dream last week about having a street party to celebrate Canada’s 150. Your post has inspired to go with that dream and do it not only for our country’s birthday, but also for the purpose of bringing people together and connecting.

  19. This could be a great idea. Unfortunately you fail to recognize the intolerance and bias in your own post. It sounds as though you are more interested in lecturing than listening.

    If your intentions are genuine I would examine your own heart to see if it is open. If not prepare it to be so and I believe that your efforts will be more meaningful for you and your guests.

    I have been a fan for a few years and love your cookbook and website. Your post let me know that I’m not welcome.

    • Aimee’s post demonstrated her attempt to understand those around her who may hold different opinions. I’m sure she would welcome you around her dinner table. Please don’t accuse her of intolerance because she holds a different opinion than you.

    • I cannot understand how Aimee writing about inviting people to her table could make someone feel unwelcome?? I saw compassion, open-mindedness, the desire to connect and communicate with people, even those who may differ. I saw absolutely no intolerance, except for hate crimes.

  20. Potlucks are such a wonderful idea to bring people together, even if it’s just people in your neighborhood. Thanks for sharing the idea to invite more people into our home.

  21. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Bringing people together is something we all need more of.

  22. Jennifer Watkins says

    Thank you for such a lovely post. Beautifully written, and something each of us needs to take to heart. Thank you!

  23. Beautifully written Aimée. Thank you for your courage to share your thoughts. #FoodIsLove

  24. I can’t attend vigils or marches but I can fill a table and feed people- YES.

    And above all, listen with kindness. This is such a good action step. Discussions around the table, offline- we can hear each other and find our commonalities. I don’t know what this looks like yet for me but I’m paying attention.

  25. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! People may disagree and let them leave. Peace and love. ❤

  26. Alaina Archer says

    Aimee, I am so sorry for negatives. Your post was so kind, so loving, and so open. I re read it and I still feel the same. Beautiful words, words my heart needed today. May we all give any love we can to others, whether via food or some other avenue.

    • I agree. Your post was respectful and caring. Good for you sharing your talents with your community and opening your home to new guests.

  27. Love this. Simple, but so important. I’ve been feeling a lot of the same uncertainty about what to do. I’m going to share a link to this on my Sunday Morning Coffee post.

  28. That was a beautiful post. Thank you for writing it.

    I appreciate your practical ideas that inspire us all to contribute, even from our kitchens. You took a risk and shared a piece of your heart in a very public place. Sure, the comments were not all positive, but you did the right thing. ❤️

  29. Beautifully said, Aimee! I couldn’t agree more with the thoughts you expressed. Now especially, we need for people everywhere to make the effort to connect with one another on a face to face basis, and the addition of food, lovingly prepared, can only enhance the connection. Thanks for this, and for all of your posts.

  30. Lovely.

  31. Thank you for your encouragement to reach out and take action to make room at our table for those who differ from us. And for being brave enough to let others disagree. How we use our words and our time truly does have a lasting impact on others.

  32. A truly lovely and loving response. Thank you for inspiring me to open my heart and my home.

  33. Aimee you are a wonderful person with a loving and compassionate heart. I admire what you do with what is in front of you. Beautiful things will come out of those gatherings. We all have our part to play in making the world a better place. Thank you for the encouragement you brought us to reach out.

  34. A beautiful, honest post. Don’t let the negative comments get you down. To say ‘I follow for recipes, not politics’, then just read the recipes! Your opinion is valuable and I’m glad you shared it here. The tragedy in Quebec was heartbreaking and it brings to light that we, here in Canada, are not immune.

  35. Aimee, I know you put a great deal of thought, time, and love into this post. It shows. It is very difficult to say anything at a time when many seem all too quick with their words. And yet to ignore a matter that is burning in all our hearts,waking and sleeping, at this time would be to betray ourselves. I believe one of the things we all must do at this time is, as you said, to listen, and when we do, to allow others to disagree, and to remember that no one is the Enemy: not those who are different from you, not those who disagree with you, not the Muslims, not the killers, for the Enemy is, as it has always been, hate, violence, fear, and discrimination.

  36. M Letourneau says

    Aimee, I have only been following your blog for a couple months (since I first read your amazing cookbook…it’s one of my recent favorite cookbooks) but in that short time have deeply enjoyed your kind and gracious voice. Thank you so much for your courage in posting this. Your idea for positive action helped bring me out of despair over the hatred and divisiveness currently in the world sphere and mobilized me into making some dishes for a community dinner tonight. Thank you!

  37. Thank you, Aimee! We in the States appreciate the solidarity from our Canadian neighbors. It is a scary and uncertain time. Bringing people together in the manner you have suggested is a great step to take!
    Blessings!

  38. Christine H says

    Awesome post, Aimee. Keep up the good works and the good words…not to mention good food.

  39. Aimee, I admit that I am new to your blog but this post has won my heart. I couldn’t agree with you more…. only you have written it so beautifully. I am tired of hearing about walls and borders, about us and them – this is a refreshing break from all of that! Bravo!

  40. This post is honest and true to yourself. I admire and appreciate that, and as a Canadian applaud your community spirit.

  41. This was beautiful, Aimee. Thank you for speaking up. For feeding people’s hearts and stomachs. For opening your heart and home.

    I’m sorry for the negative comments, but please know that I, and so many others, stand with you. You have brought light to my heart when during these dark days.

  42. Beautiful words .. God bless you

  43. Aimee, thank you for writing this. It’s hard when you know that people need a break from the news, the overwhelm, the disagreement and arguing, and come to your space possibly looking for that break. But we who love and dedicate ourselves to food and helping people nourish themselves and others know, deeply, that food is not just an escape.

    It’s not so that we can eat our feelings, it’s so that we can share them. Food is love and community. The table is a place to talk, listen, and connect. So I understand why you felt the need to say something. Ours is not a space separate from any issue where humanity, love, understanding, and human connection are at stake — it’s at the heart of it. Thank you for your beautiful words, as always. xo

  44. New to the blog, love your IG. more than happy to subscribe to make up for those choosing to leave!
    This blog fed my heart tonight

  45. I follow your beautiful Instagram but rarely get a moment to keep up with your blog. I love everything about your cookbook, but I especially love the honesty, day to day stories, and the simple sharing of feelings and moments in your day to day life. I do not identify as Christian, but I still enjoy seeing how your faith and family help motivate who you are and who you want to be through it. We can no longer continue to skirt around the ugliness that has reared its head in our world, and to go on without acknowledging it is being untrue to ourselves and those who have already been affected. Anyone who took your post as anything other than a heartfelt, honest and kind moment is looking to be offended, and that is not something you can be held responsible for. The world needs more kindness, more open doors and more helping hands if we are going to exist together as a whole. I lost a dear and much loved family member on 9/11/2001, but I cannot place the blame on an entire race and religion; to do so would be close minded and a dishonor to the memory of the man who left us too soon. I strive to continue with love and acceptance to those around me, no matter what, and at your lovely suggestion, I will also try to welcome them with a meal and a smile. Warm thoughts to you and yours.

  46. Beautiful post. Thank you for being real and honest.

  47. Great post about the power of food. It takes courage to open your home to strangers – it’s an admirable thing to do and very inspiring.

  48. All the love! I can’t imagine the angst and care you must have taken in crafting these beautiful words. You are so right – we need more time together around the table.

  49. An amazing and thoughtful post. I found it inspiring. Thank you for speaking out!

  50. Aimee, I think this was beautifully written and nowhere did I feel that you were blaming President Trump. I love this idea about opening up our homes to share a meal. I am going to seek God’s wisdom on this and maybe start with inviting my neighbors. Thank you for voicing your thoughts in a sweet way. I have not heard about what happened in Quebec, but will be praying for all the families involved.

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