The Power of The Table
Yesterday afternoon, our family gathered around my in-laws dining room table which had been expanded to fit 8 of us. Once a month my mother in law has all of us over for dinner. My family of 5, one of my nephews and his girlfriend, and quite often someone's friend. Sometimes my other nephew if he's in town. She (and we) look forward to these days. Sometimes people have to leave not long after eating, but yesterday, everyone lingered. We didn't leave until 5:00.
There is something about gathering around a table that invites conversation, laughter, even silence. As we sat there beginning to eat, she said "okay, now, there's a theme you need to figure out". Not with the food, but something about the table. We all sat there looking around trying to figure it out. After hints, and more questions and silly answers, my youngest figured it out...The dishes didn't all match, but each type of dish was matched with a certain pattern of goblets. What a fun idea. She had also made a few dishes that were from some Amish books she was reading.
As the day wore on, some stayed around the table, some meandered to watch football, clean the kitchen, then gather around to play a game before heading home.
The table. It is powerful. It invites connection, focus, intentionality, restoration. It is healing. It is transformative.
"The Table is a meeting place, a gathering around, the source of sustenance and nourishment, festivity, safety, and satisfaction. A person cooking is a person giving: Even the simplest food is a gift." Laurie Colwin
Now, I will be the first to admit that often in our own family of 4 we didn't eat at our table regularly, sometimes we weren't all home at the same time, more often we sat in the family room with tv trays. I do wish we spent more time around the table, but we still cultivated conversation wherever we ate. And there have certainly been disagreements....it's not always a bed of roses, but when it is, it is oh so good. The rest is learning and growing.
In her book "For the Love" Jen Hatmaker says, "A shared table is the supreme expression of hospitality in every culture on earth. When your worn-out kitchen table hosts good people and good conversation, when it provides a safe place to break bread and share wine, your house becomes a sanctuary, holy as a cathedral. "
YES!!! Don't let a small home, small table, messy kitchen stop you from gathering around the table. Don't let a tight budget keep you from feeding people. Maybe we'll talk about that later. Maybe there's more room around your coffee table, or couches with tv trays or food on plates on laps...that's okay, do what works. Sometimes in the summer, we set up a plastic costco table on our back porch and eat around it. Sure I'd love a nicer table, or picnic table, but this works. It doesn't have to be a beautifully set table, mine rarely is. None of that matters. What really matters is what takes place around the table and in the hearts and minds of others.
When we moved into our home we received a table that I fell in love with, not because it was spectacularly beautiful (it's pretty simple really), BUT it has 3 leaves and expands to fit well over 10 around it. I love that. Room for everyone or just a few. I hope it lasts a long time. This table has fed family, friends, sports teams (soccer and golf), guest speakers from our old church, a few strangers. It has endured pounding from game players (not at all competitive...lol). It probably has stories to tell.
Who can you invite around your table? Who needs some nourishment (physical and maybe emotional or spiritual)? Who can you invite into your world?
A few books on my reading list: A Bigger Table by John Pavlovitz, Simple Gatherings by Melissa Michaels.
I'm loving the idea of talking about The Power of...." I think I'll continue it with a few more themes.
With Joy Unquenchable,