babette’s feast

I am typically a rules girl and a goals girl.  I used to write a new list every year until I was challenged during a psalms retreat through Asbury to write one big list, more of a rule of life, versus goals.  I have been working at that one for a number of years.  One of the items that hasn’t quite taken hold is reading.  I am such a do-er (and momma to small kiddos) that it is hard for me to sit down and practice reading for pure enjoyment and mental stimulation.  So this may be the one that I need to focus on this year – reading for enjoyment!

We have been getting books from the trinity forum for a couple of years now.  I was delighted to see that this time it was Babette’s Feast, a short story by Isak Dinesen.   I remember having to watch the foreign film in my French studying days but have never read the story.  I finished in one evening.  It was great to get caught up in the characters and hidden story line.  I am thankful for the discussion guide they provide at the end, there were some great questions to ponder on, especially after the holiday season.   I liked these application questions…

Q: What is Dinesan saying about art – or grace – by having most of the diners unable and unwilling to recognize the quality of the meal?

Generosity is the greatness of giving while concealing the cost.  How amazing it was to me that Babette concealed her talent for twelve years, although it had been made known in the original letter.  Her grace was shown through the humble and “comfortable” service performed to the sisters during that time.  The sisters long before the meal were unable to recognize her fully as they suppressed the world to a fault. Again grace was parted as Babette planned and executed a lavish meal, knowing full well that her audience could not grasp its splendor. Babette did not need to publicize her talent, she had a confidence of her skill, which when executed in all her creativity was an expression of art.  Unable or unwilling to recognize does not disqualify the act, the gift, or the cost.


Q: Have you ever been in a situation like the sisters resisting the gift of the dinner?  Do we sometimes resist accepting the bounty of God when it is different from our expectations?

This is a question that I have dwelled on for a number of years.  Living in a consumerist society and working in ministry there is a dichotomy between wants and needs, accepting and rejecting, thankfulness and politeness…  I am at fault as most, creating wishlists and registries, strongly suggesting to others “this is what I want” blurred with “this is what I “need”.  I had discussion with my husband about this before Christmas, how creating lists do set up expectation.  I am currently leaning towards, the longing and wanting not being particularly awful when balanced with open-minded receiving.  Our longing should never be overshadowed by others generous giving.  In fact I am beginning to believe that it is harder for those in our culture to recieve gifts well as opposed to simplicity in giving.  When is the last time you opened a gift that you didn’t have some sort of insecurity about  or feel the need to return the favor?  How humbling it is when we accept a gift that we not expecting and can never repay.


Q: What are you grateful for? Have you allowed anything to keep you from pursuing, developing, and sharing your gifts?  From opening up your heart and home?

Sometimes our greatest accomplishments are masked by our own insecurities and pride.  I love that Babette gave herself fully in her gift,  using her talent and all her winnings which lead to her confident boast “I shall never be poor.  I told you that I am a great artist.  A great artist, Mesdames, is never poor.  We have something, of which other people know nothing.”  I am on a journey to live out the story that Christ gave me.   At points I guard, with-hold, second guess, stumble, muddle, make, strive, long, create, love and share.  It is the sharing that is my growing edge,  the more I give the richer I become.  Sharing, my faith, family, artwork, time, thoughts, and emotions that I keep, that are hidden inside of me.  It is in part why I started to write this blog, which is really a safe way of sharing (like a long-distance relationship.)  Yet these are the things that I am most grateful, for my relationships with Christ, my husband, kids, family and friends, with that I gladly open my heart and home.

About Kate

I am a wife, mother, friend, artist, swimmer, traveler, cook, adventurer and follower of Christ. This is where I share the best moments in my day – the kind you know would be a crime to keep to yourself. I write like I talk, not too fancy but from the heart. View all posts by Kate

2 responses to “babette’s feast

  • arielmaeve

    I was not aware that Babette’s Feast is also a story. I have loved the film for years but am now excited to look for the story.

    Your reflections on gift-giving were provoking. I think that receiving can be so hard because it requires humility and openness to the what the other person wants to offer, as opposed to what we want to receive. Thank you for your thoughts.

    • Kate

      Thanks for the comments. My mind is still making connections to the story. You may be able to find a copy of the story in one of her collections of short stories or you can order a copy from the trinity forum. They sell neat little paper prints – think moleskin size for a small price. They are great to slip into a purse or travel with.

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