My dad always carried a rustic picnic in the trunk of his car.
Actually, calling it a picnic might be generous. I can recall many a time, leaning up against his car and eating some sort of makeshift feast. It was always simple – saltine crackers, a hunk of cheese, occasionally a piece of fruit and if we were lucky, his favorite, Kipper snacks. Most trunk picnics were washed down with cheap white wine. (I know that makes no sense with kids, but my dad was Latin and who drank water in the 1980s? Answer - no one.)
These dad-style picnics were more about necessity than style. After all, he had five kids to feed, and going out to eat would have been an unthinkable amount of money. I don’t recall any deep conversations or profound points of connection. What I do remember is how present we were -- showing up in the moment and fully there for each other.
Picnics for me were never about the food, but about spending time with the people you love.
History shares that the French were the ones who introduced the idea of the picnic as a way to show off their amazing food and wine. Of course, the English were the ones who improved upon it with the sublime outdoors blanket and basket experience. But my favorite picnic is from the book of John when Jesus cooks up breakfast on the beach. Can you imagine coming in, tired and exhausted from fishing all morning, only to be greeted by the Savior of the world cooking you breakfast?
“When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” John 21:9-12 ESV
Picnics to me are a tangible metaphor for what I think we all seek. Communion, fellowship, sustenance, and restoration. We all long for these things, whether we know it or not. No matter the food or surroundings or people, the best picnics are when we are fully there and embracing what is before us.
How to Create a John 21 Style Picnic:
Bring what you have.
Feast with those you love.
Where Can You Invite More "Picnic" in Your Life?
What I loved about my dad's picnics was that they didn't require a special occasion or elegant food. They didn't need a scheduled time or a calendar invite. My dad always had something to savor in his car and he was ready when hungry people showed up. Feasting for me sometimes feels like it has to be an organized, well-scheduled, and coordinated affair. Or even worse, I put off fellowshipping for the days when I am less busy or more together. In other words, never.
My encouragement for you and for me is that we don't wait for the formal invitation moments. Let's decide we can picnic when the moment arrives. Let's be more open to bringing what we have, showing up, and feasting with those you love. Whether it's a trunk picnic, parking lot coffee, or lavish outdoor feast. Let's not miss the chance to have picnic attitudes ready to break bread with whoever is with us.
Where can you be a John 21 picnic for someone?
Let’s agree to look for ways to be that kind of presence – when we show up in love.