The late Miranda Harris was best known for the international conservation organization she and her husband founded 35 years ago called A Rocha (“The Rock” in Portuguese). She and her husband, Peter, traveled the world to share their love of God and of creation.
But Miranda was also known for the beautiful letters she sent from all those places around the world. I was fortunate enough to have received many of them. They arrived in my Tennessee mailbox postmarked from France, Malaysia, and South Africa.
Her letters came alive with words from the Psalms, with family updates and encouragements, written in lovely script all the way to the edges of the page. She wrote the way she lived—as an overflow.
Miranda’s faithful habit of letter writing was part of her gift for bringing others into her life. So was the Harrises’ family table.
In the early days of the couple’s ministry, Miranda famously spent their first earnings on a large dining room table. The A Rocha house, on the coast of Portugal, was a study center that, in those first years, also served as their family home. They welcomed travelers and scientists, binocular-toting bird observers, note takers, and researchers (and the occasional special guest of a recovering owl or songbird).
Miranda’s extravagant purchase of a dining table made hospitality a priority. Community orbited around this table through conversation, feasting, and regular time spent face to face over meals.
I’ve thought of this image often this year, as our family tables have been reduced in size during pandemic life. Whether you live alone, with a spouse, with friends, or in other family configurations, the compression of our social rhythms has likely left you feeling ...1
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