29694959_10156055529576061_8758179872313243486_n 2For the past some years – 5 or 7 or more, none of us can remember, Shelley and I have made Easter Sunday lunch for our friends Sue and Julia, Mark and Martyn, Jo and Jasper and Lily.

Amie (who, with her partner Gemma, suggested this Joy – and facilitated it with Sabrina Ghayour’s Feasts cookbook) used to be Mark and Martyn’s flatmate. Shelley and Martyn have recently made some work together. Martyn, Sue and Julia all worked on a show I wrote many years ago. Martyn directed my second solo show, Breaststrokes. Sue and Lily share a birthday, 50 years apart, and there is Sue’s art practice and Lily’s growing one. Lily is my god-daughter (in both Catholic and Buddhist ways); Jo and I flatted together decades ago at university and she almost introduced me to my Buddhist practice (it was an Alice show connection, Buddhas, but it didn’t quite come off), but in the end I introduced her, and she introduced her family. Martyn and I share a surname, but are not related as far as we know. I went to school, briefly, with Mark’s sister. Julia, Jo and I were all born in the UK and grew up in the antipodes.

So we have not only friendship, and other friends between us, but other twists and ties. They are ties of work, of interests and passions, of the illness and disease many of us around that table have lived with and are living with, of grief and loss and sadness and SO MUCH joy. Joys through loss, joys not despite but inside of illness and disease, joy regardless.

Amie and Gemma cooked a fantastic meal for Shelley and I, and suggested ‘cook a feast’ as one of my 55 Joys. Obviously, the annual Easter Sunday lunch counts as a feast, it is a ritual we have created for ourselves, a marking of time passed, and a reunion of friendships. And this year it also coincided with Jasper’s birthday. We started on Friday with some prep before joining Shelley’s family for Passover seder on Friday night, did some more on Saturday before and after going to my niece’s for her 2 year old’s birthday party (my niece has 5 kids so even if it had just been her own family it would have been huge, but oh no, there were about a dozen other kids as well – my niece is glorious in her welcoming of children), and then cooked from early on Sunday and cleared up at about 10pm.

Making a feast is a real labour of love. I don’t think it can be a ‘feast’ if it doesn’t have love in it, ‘feast’ implies an elevation, a lift of some sort. A lift of love and such gratitude for having those people in our lives and for their lives touching ours.

Oh, and all that alcohol-free (as I have been for three months now). Who knew it could be so do-able? Not me. Seriously, really not me. The only other time I’ve been alcohol-free for any lengthy period was during chemo, and none of that was any fun. This is all for another blog eventually, but being alcohol-free is being very interesting – I’ve not yet felt the much-promised benefits of fewer hot flushes, better sleep and less arthritis pain, but neither are drinking people boring or annoying to me, so I think I’m definitely on to a good thing.

Today I am rejoicing (re-JOY-cing) in the quiet of a bank holiday which means that no-one will disturb my work time with emails or urgent demands, and I am also running and yoga-ing and leftovers-ing. All good.

birthday cake (vegan) for Jasper and cherry, chocolate & mint parfait (very not vegan)