In about six weeks, Bread & Wine will be winging its way through the postal system and arriving on your doorsteps. I kind of can’t believe it. This week I’ll post a little bit every day about the story behind the book—how the initial idea came about, and what I learned about life and about writing along the way.
After the Bittersweet tour ended, I began working on Bread & Wine happily, intensely, feeling like it was a reward, something I was so purely excited to write about. I wrote and wrote and at the end of long writing days I took to the kitchen, making a mess, making the recipes we love over and over so that we could share them with you. I got more writing done in that first month than I ever had on any project.
And then I got pregnant with Mac after such a long season of loss and longing. Gratitude upon gratitude. And then I got so sick that writing about food was truly a ludicrous idea. For the better part of a year, Bread & Wine was on hold again—this poor book.
As ever, writing is an education. Even though you think you’re the one telling the story, the story is getting told in you, written across your life in a sometimes unwieldy, reckless way. For almost a year, I struggled with terrible sickness. For almost a year I learned the hard way to accept help and grace and kindness—lessons I’ve long needed to learn.
And then in January of 2012, about a million years after that day in Denver, I began again, writing Bread & Wine again. That year, now that I’m looking back on it, was necessary—certainly it was necessary for me as a mother, to get through a hard pregnancy and for the sweet newborn season that I got to soak up with Mac. But it was necessary for the book, too, even though I didn’t know it at the time.
I needed to learn in even deeper ways what it’s like to be cared for, what it’s like to be at one’s very worst and loved anyway. Essentially, before I could write Bread & Wine, I needed to learn a few more hard lessons about vulnerability, community, and love, so that those things would seep out of the pages at every turn. I hope they do.
The book that you’ll hold soon came to life in between naps and feedings, on flights and in hotel rooms late at night, but more than anything, it came to life around the table.
My dream is that reading Bread & Wine feels, in the best possible way, like being at a dinner party. Like red wine and goat cheese, like balsamic vinegar, like just one bite of the richest chocolate mousse you’ve ever had. Like figs, like bacon, like boeuf bourguignon. Cozy, warm, rich, full of comfort and nourishment.
Bread & Wine is a book about our table, about home and history and connectedness, a love letter to this season and the faces that have gathered around it for what seems like a lifetime of dinners.
It’s about trust, prayer, intimacy, letting yourself be needy and slow. About breaking your addiction to productivity the hard way. About showing up at the table tired and ragged and hungry, desperate for grace and nourishment. About letting people see you scared and helpless, and letting them feed you in your weakness.
At the heart of it, more than anything, this is what I want: when you finish Bread & Wine, I want you to lay down the heavy load of expectations and perfection and comparison, the proving and pushing. And I want you to open your front door—along with it, of course, your life, your heart—and lay yourself open to the deep and transforming connections that are formed around our tables. I want you to shake the prevailing notion that when we share meals around our tables they need to be extravagant and perfect. However humble, however meager or fumbled, food made by hand and with love is always a gift.
I want you to slow down, say no, do less, push less, prove less, and I want you to let the people you love gather around your messy, imperfect, human, lovely table, and eat together.