By Raquel Contreras
As a Latina, one of the things that I enjoy the most about visiting friends or family in their homes is feeling so welcomed and free to stay over and talk for hours. The after-dinner fellowship in our gatherings is a tradition that unites us and helps us enjoy life together and reminisce about our history.
I believe that Latinas always practice this with great grace and strength. Every time someone comes to our home, the first thing we ask is: “Can I serve you a glass of water or coffee? This sense of hospitality through food, however simple this offer may be, brings about a closeness to our relationships, and produces a strong sense of sisterhood.
In my country, Chile, we have a phrase among women, which makes a lot of sense to us: “Conversémonos un café” – “Let’s talk a coffee”. That means, let’s sit down, have a coffee and talk about life. Let’s practice friendship.
This sense of friendship (sisterhood) around the table is a very present reality in the life of Latinas. Some of us may have hard jobs that require a lot of diligence on our part. And some of us may use our mind for mathematical calculations or to make transformative decisions for other people or for companies; Yet we relish sitting at the table with our friends and talk about the simple things of life: How do you make chiles rellenos (stuffed peppers)? Where do you buy your clothes? What did you play when you were a girl?
The dining table of a Latina is a space that we fill with our sense of sisterhood, of friendship, and a place where we learn from one another.
I love thinking that Jesus always practiced this. We see him sitting at the table with people who did not have a very good reputation and having a good time. We see him serving breakfast for his friends after they spent a long night working. We see him feeding more than five thousand tired people that he had invited to follow him. We especially observe him giving special instructions to remember him every time we drink the wine and eat of the bread. How beautiful! The table and what was happening around it, was of great importance for Jesus and his friends.
Acts 2:46-47 reminds us how the early Christians lived and experienced this fully, “Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple complex, and broke bread from house to house. They ate their food with a joyful and humble attitude, praising God and having favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to them those who were being saved.” (HCSB)
That sense of “joy and humbleness of heart” is beautiful for me, worthy of being imitated. Our sense of sisterhood must always bring joy to our lives—a joy to live that can only come from the Grace of God in us. Furthermore, the humbleness of our hearts should influence our sisterhood to be inclusive, cheerful, compassionate, and a praise to God.
I get excited to think that our sisterhood is an invitation to be part of the different circles we belong to, so that we can also have favor with all people. The final part of Acts 2 verse 47 affirms, “And every day the Lord added to them those who were being saved.” In other words, if we take care of communing with our friends and others (eating “chiles rellenos with cheese” around the table), the Lord will take care of evangelism.
What a blessing it is to be a Latina and to be able to enjoy life this way!
Raquel Contreras is the general director of Editorial Mundo Hispano in El Paso, TX. She serves on the Board of Directors of CLLI.