What is the first picture that pops into your mind when you think about the word "table"?
Grandma's table was formica rectangle had six metal chairs. We traveled to Pennsylvania twice a year for Christmas and during summer. Grandma and I would exchange snail mail and often would discuss the food she would have when we came. We planned getting together when we weren't together. She grocery shopped intentionally for me. Her table was the gathering place. Starting early in the morning over her cup of instant coffee (gasp) we would begin visiting. The rest of the house would be quiet and she would make some toast. (The smell of toast still brings tears to my eyes.) Others would eventually come, neighbors and family. Shoes rarely touched the den carpet, but everyone came to the kitchen table. I knew I was special at that table.
The small round wooden table at the Aunt's house also comes to mind. Even as small as the table was, there was always room for one more. They used Johnson's Brothers coffee cups and saucers. No matter when you popped in--and lots of people did all the time--they would say, "All we have is leftovers." And out of the refrigerator would come a delicious fare suited more for a king than an average person. Everyone felt special around that table.
Mom's Queen Anne oval table was the most versatile table ever. We moved it thousands of miles from one room to the next. Because we loved to rearrange furniture we put it in every possible space we could think of. When it came to eating, all were welcome. Christmas breakfast was the most treasured of events. In the early years grandparents, aunts, and uncles came to the feast. The leaf was put in and the dining table expanded. Card tables were set up to include more people. Laughter and stories resounded and the smell of country ham filled the air. No one was in a hurry. We just visited. We still have Christmas breakfast to this day. We just could not help but feel special around that table.
My Mother-in-love gathers a motley crew on most Tuesday nights. Pop built her a table that seats one billion people. She is never happier than when it is full of people. We are on a group text that pops up on Tuesday mornings. We wait to see it. Everyone RSVPs with a thumbs up or thumbs down. Are we eating this week? Who can come? There are family members, a minister, and college students on the list. This week a neighbor/friend came who had never been before. It is always a joyful time. Whoever comes is always glad they did. All feel special.
A tiny two seater table also comes to mind that belonged to an elderly woman I knew as a child. She had me and her granddaughter to lunch one day. I was very young and I can remember that lunch like it was yesterday. The meal was simple--apples and cheese. It was beautiful. I cannot remember the plate but I still remember how she placed the food on it. Maybe that food is all she had or maybe she bought it just for us. That lunch was one of the best lunches I had ever had. I felt so loved at that table that day.
Tables convey community. People invited to sit at your table feel special.
- College students a long way from home often reminisce about how much they miss their tables at home and how much they love home cooked meals.
- Elderly widows' eyes feel with tears as they relish the sound of families and recall years past. (They also may enjoy their quiet homes a little bit more when it is time to go home.)
- People who have never sat at a table (unfortunately there are many) soak in the tangible love like a dry sponge does water.
Here are some commonalities. To have someone to eat takes a little bit of time and as least a small amount of preparation. But...It does not have to be hard.
- People can bless people and feed them-but in a lot of different ways. It might be pizza from a box or a huge feast. The food is not always the blessing.
- Wether you can cook or not does not matter in the least.
- A space can be anything from the largest table to a blanket in the park...making a space for people is the goal.
- You could brew coffee or serve instant (Really? Did I say that?) But the truth is a glass of water will suffice.
Who could you make a place for this week? The table and the food are truly irrelevant. Make a space for people to be heard. God could really use you to encourage them! You could be a game changer just by making a space for another person!
What was your favorite gathering? What makes this memory such a special one in your mind? Let us know about it in the comments below!
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