I’m writing this in our dining room at a table, a holy gift.
We purchased this table thanks to the generosity of our Barrie Free Methodist Church family. On our last Sunday there, before we were to head to Toronto, they gave us notes of encouragement and gifts of money as a send-off. We were overwhelmed by this show of love–I wept for three days straight after reading the cards and still get teary when I think of it. We knew instantly that we would use the money for an item that would extend the legacy our church had offered to us over the years – one of love, hospitality, and a sense of home.
This table, upon purchase, was instantly put to good use. Right away, it showed signs of wear and tear as we welcomed guests into our new space and to the table. I always suggest we meet here instead of going out for coffee or tea. Already this table is the hub of stories and laughter with our friends, new and old.
The table isn’t particularly fancy, but it is functional and can certainly be dressed up as the occasion warrants. With the leaf (you know you’ve grown up when your table has a leaf), it seats eight, but we have also squeezed in 10 for a meal. At Thanksgiving, we couldn’t fit all 17 of our family who were here, but it became the buffet table and held an abundance food and drinks, displaying the various culinary talents of our family (myself not included).
If I had to pick one place in my history, in the many places I’ve lived or visited, where the important conversations have taken place, where distinct memories have been made, where I have bonded with others the most, it would be at the dining room table. This piece of wood with four legs is a Very Important Piece of furniture.
There have been innumerable important talks around the table that have changed the course of my life. Candles have been lit and tea poured. We’ve spilled out the contents of our hearts, we’ve held hands or moved our seats closer to really hear from each other. At the table, you can look at each other in the eyes. At the table, you can’t hide the tears.
The dining room table has been a confessional, with elbows bent on its surface in prayer. The sturdiness of the table can bring about the softening of the heart. I’ve put the weight of world on the dining room table and it hasn’t buckled.
The dining room table has been a place of great joy, where humour has been fostered. There is nothing like laughing around a table. J-M took great care in teaching this to our daughters. Their attempts to tell jokes at a young age often came up empty. “If you want me to laugh, it had better be funny,” my husband would say. I thought he was too harsh at the time, but his stern approach paid off as he now regularly belly laughs with his daughters when they tell their stories over dinner. His love is unconditional, but his humour is not, and the girls have won his approval over the dining room table.
The dining room table has been a place of learning. Homework has been strewn across it, frustrated heads lower and rise again from the wood grain. Daddy has been called to sort out the hardest problems. Eventually understanding comes and the dining room table has been an agent for success.
The dining room table has been a place of curiosity and exploration. Various materials have been brought in, examined, dissected, and sprinkled about, mostly by Sophia, and sometimes by all of us, in the name of art. I’ve marveled at the types of dirt my dishcloth has gathered from the dining room table.
The dining room table has been a place of celebration, where toasts have been raised to birthdays and romance, graduation and new beginnings. We pour our drinks in the glasses on the table, we raise them high and put them down again. We blow out candles and eat cake, satisfied and properly feted at the dining room table.
The dining room table has been a place of collaboration, where brilliant ideas flow and note-taking flies. Maps are spread, plans drawn up, fingers point to a destination or a future, the origins of which happily occur and are later debriefed at the dining room table.
And how devastating when someone walks away from the dining room table out of anger or frustration or sadness. It’s never right. Come back to the table. Let’s talk.
John-Mark went away for a few days a couple weeks ago and we girls hardly spent any time at the dining room table. We would whip up fast meals and eat them in a hurry, usually at the kitchen counter. We were busy, too busy, to spend lengths of time at the table. I noticed a distancing over the week, where we were just passing each other by or, even, getting in each other’s way. Life was being lived side by side, but not together. When John-Mark came back and cooked us a real meal, we returned to the dining room table. I realized – from the unfolding, pent-up conversation about the days previous – the power of the dining room table to anchor us. This sacred space, keeps us tied together, an essential for holding tight family and friendships.
Thank God for the dining room table.
…Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. (Luke 22:14)