Around the Table

I recently finished a beautiful book by Shauna Niequist called Bread & Wine: A love letter to life around the table. Before reading this book, I was never able to really reconcile what I love so much about food and sharing meals with people. My appetite is crazy strong. Not for bad food…I am talking about an appetite for rich, from scratch food like the Watkins’ cocoa recipe for chocolate pie type of food!  Most of my memories from childhood are tied to food. I learned early on that if you love people you should feed them and feed them well…

~ My mother never budged on eating dinner around the table. She was so faithful at providing a good hot meal at the same time every night. We could count on it. And as my sister and I got older, and ball games and practices brought us home late, we could still count on a plate waiting for us when we got home. My absolute favorite nights though, were paydays! These were the nights when mom would bring home Pizza Parlour pizza (chopped Canadian bacon, black olive, and mushroom) and Sixlets candies. Oh, how I love Sixlets!

~ My father never cooked, except on Sundays, and it was always the same. Omelets. Sunday mornings he would wake up before us to start breakfast. My dad wasn’t much for communication but I knew he loved us and enjoyed serving his family this way. I still to this day haven’t had an omelet quite like his.

~ My best friend’s mom made chocolate gravy from scratch for me at a slumber party. Well, she made it for all the girls, but I don’t think anyone appreciated it as much as I did. J

~ We would visit my grandparents in Arkadelphia maybe twice a year. My memaw’s house after church on Sunday was my favorite place on those visits. She would invite what seemed like the entire church for potluck. Even new people! And my memaw, no joke, had a separate fridge just for bottled coke. She would make things like peanut brittle and peach fried pies. She was probably the most beautiful lesson and example in hospitality I have ever learned. Her house would be so full that you could find someone in just about every room with a full plate.

~ I fell in love with my husband, Pat doing dishes together at Braums in Van Buren, for real! But I fell in love with the Walton family – Kim (aka Nana), Jim (aka Papa), Travis, and Sean (my brother-in-laws) around their dining room table when I was 17. I had never before experienced so much conversation, laughter, noise, and meat in one meal in my whole life!

 What makes me feel alive and connected to God’s voice and spirit in this world is creating opportunities for the people I love to rest and connect and be fed at my table.

I get it now! I love food, yeah, but more so, I love seeing people come together to enjoy food and enjoy each other.  I remember all those times around a table where people loved me and feed me both physically and emotionally. And I want to do the same for others.

 We don’t come to the table to fight or to defend. We don’t come to prove or to conquer, to draw lines in the sand or to stir up trouble. We come to the table because our hunger brings us there. We come with a need, with fragility, with an admission of our humanity. The table is the great equalizer, the level playing field many of us have been looking everywhere for. The table is the place where the doing stops, the trying stops, the masks are removed, and we allow ourselves to be nourished, like children. We allow someone else to meet our need. In a world that prides people on not having needs, on going longer and faster, on going without, on powering through, the table is a place of safety and rest and humanity, where we are allowed to be as fragile as we feel. If the home is a body, the table is the heart, the beating center, the sustainer of life and health.

 Come to the table.

Pat and I decided a few months ago to sell our house, we wanted to downsize in this new chapter of our lives with William off to college, and start over building exactly what we wanted in a house. We were so sure that I had a garage sale early on and sold a lot of furniture, including the kitchen table. I just knew this was the next step and I was sure that simplifying things a little and getting ready for the sale of the house would work to our advantage.  Well, as some of you may know about Pat and I, we tend to change our minds, a lot! It’s been tough not having a table in the house. Some amazing conversations have happened in our home around the table. It’s not the same eating in your lap in front of a TV. You don’t learn about each other’s days, you don’t release stress through conversation, you don’t learn more about the person across from you when you take away the table.

As I sat down to start this blog, I received a phone call that our new table will be delivered tomorrow. They told us 2-4 weeks. It’s been 7 days! God is so good. He is my provider and He takes delight in seeing me love and enjoy the things He so graciously gives!

 Thank you Lord for the new table, thank you in advance for the people who will gather around it, thank you for the good and sometimes bad food we will have at that table, but most of all thank you for the healing conversations and the incredible laughter to come as we do life with each other and with you around the table. For those who gather around my table, help me to feed and love them well.