Sometimes the theme of an evening is a ripe piece of low-hanging fruit and sometimes it is a matter that requires a bit of thought. I have now gone to a fair amount of dinners as a part of our congregation’s dinner clubs  and they have been quite a varied set of experiences, and that of last night had its own distinctive elements. In fact, it was not until after the dinner was over that I realized how biased our group of people was to the distaff side. Out of nine people there, I was one of only two gentlemen. The husband of the hostess was away in Wyoming, and all of the additional guests in our party, two young women (one of whom was the daughter of the hostess) and the hostess’ sister-in-law, were women. Being someone who tends to enjoy the company of ladies, despite my own lack of success in romantic endeavors, this was not something that I consciously thought about until later, although a fair amount of the discussion dealt with the awkwardness of being single when one attracts blame for it in some fashion, as at least a few of there could relate to.
As I was thinking about the meal, what struck me most was a sort of inexorable nature of it. There was present a woman who is struggling with a progressive disease which has gradually laid waste to her own mobility. There were several of us present pondering where we fit into the grand scheme of life and where we were to find our place in this world in terms of jobs and relationships and the like. To add to the interest, during the course of the conversation after the meal some of us had the chance to look at a notice given to the hostess and her family about the expansion of the neighboring city of Cornelius. We reflected on the fact that it was likely inevitable that their house, which currently is in a rural zone allowing for the taking care of chickens, will be annexed into the city of Cornelius and will be required to be on the city’s water and sewage and that taxes will likely get more expensive. The hostess seemed resigned to moving further out into the country where there would be a bit more space and a bit less traffic, and even thought of moving down to Marion County to be closer to her future grandchildren. All of this seemed to suggest the march of time that does not pause for anyone.
The meal itself offered the opportunity for a great deal of reflection. The hostess chose a Thai theme, and so I made krapow gai kai dow, or basil leaf chicken with fried egg on top. The dish itself was a tasty one and I am glad that it was enjoyed by the people there. There were only a few leftovers and everyone seemed to enjoy all of the food that was provided, which was definitely something to appreciate. Of course, it is hard for me to think of Thai food without thinking of my time in Thailand, and that sort of thought does not always leave me with a feeling of great tranquility. My time in Thailand was not exactly the most peaceful, given my own predilection for finding myself in personal and political drama which was certainly in evidence there. About that little more needs to be said, although I found it interesting that the other person at the dinner who had been in Thailand regretted her time there because she had not been as involved in helping the students there as she had wanted to be, largely because she seems to have taken a particularly relaxed approach to life.
Time marches on. A night of conversation goes on long enough that it is very late by the time people leave. Discussions range over subjects from food allergies to the way in which people can fail to make themselves appear to be marriage material through economic success or emotional and spiritual maturity. Cities annex their rural hinterlands in the search of tax revenue and a larger population to make themselves more important among their growing neighbors. Diseases progress and people struggle to have faith that they will be alright when they are no longer to fully take care of themselves. Such is the world we live in, where progress can either be viewed as positive or negative depending on what is progressing and where one stands. There is so much ambiguity in life, for though we are only here for a short while, there is much we long to say and long to hear and long to see and experience, and we are creatures given to worry that time is slipping away and that we have nothing to show for it that will last.
 See, for example: