Every Monday “Mama Holly”, as we affectionately call her, prepares a home-cooked meal for the police officers working the 6 p.m.- 6 a.m. nightshift. Her nickname stems from the fact that her son is the patrol sergeant, who supervises that particular shift. Her home is one of the safest places I have ever been. And, the relative safety I enjoy there has nothing to do with the fact that most of the dinner guests are well-armed.
Mama Holly and her husband live in a nice home, but it’s not huge. And, it’s by no means overly fancy. There is no formal dining room. A large group of us squeeze around a kitchen table that was probably designed for four people. Mama Holly doesn’t wait on us. We get our own iced tea. She does not set up a buffet table. We get our meatloaf and mashed potatoes right out of the pan that is sitting on the stove. And when we get ready for dessert, we get up and serve our own plates. And we rinse our plates, and put them in the sink before we leave!
As we gather around the table, the joking is colorful. They are cops. Their humor can be somewhat dark, and it’s always a little warped. But, Mama Holly raised a houseful of boys. She is not phased. Other family members join in as well. There are spouses going to nursing school, or teaching elementary age students. Their presence is needed and valued. And, they keep all of us in check…
Each week I look forward to homemade chicken and dumplings, brisket, or meatloaf. In the winter, there are homemade soups. But, more importantly, I enjoy the safety of Mama Holly’s home. There is no pretense. She mirrors what real hospitality looks like. I feel like I can let my guard down and breathe within the confines of her home. I get to be “just John” around her table. Nobody is trying impress anybody. There is no “positioning” or “power plays.” I feel welcomed.
Perhaps our weekly dinners remind me of an earlier era in my life. As a teenager, I recall going to my friend Scott’s home for dinner on a regular basis. His mother was also welcoming and the conversation around that table was characteristically lively. And, I felt safe there as well.
I believe there is a correlation between good hospitality and safety. Monday’s are special, because Mama Holly offers a safe haven from the pretenses of the world we live in. I am thankful for her. All of us need the need the security of a motherly influence. All of us need a few safe places. Thankfully, I have one on Monday nights.