The table is a great place to share stories. Whenever my family gathers for supper we take time to go around the table hearing each other’s highs and lows. Inevitably, a story is attached to each high and each low. When a few consecutive nights go by when we haven’t been able to hear each other’s stories, we begin to feel disconnected. We miss it. I wonder whether my five year old’s negotiations with a classmate at school resulted in her being chased less around the playground. What geography bee question did my 5th grader miss—and how did she feel when it happened? And of course, who made the best catch among the second grade boys today? Spare no detail!
In Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, he creates a world before telephones (much less cell phones). Characters travel over vast areas with lots of plot twists happening all the time. How do they finally communicate with each other the many things that have happened since the last time they met? They sit down to a feast… sometimes for days or even a week at a time. Food and tables are at the center of conversations as they share ‘tidings’. It sounds a lot like our holiday feasts where we catch up with old friends and families, sharing tidings over turkeys, hams, stuffing and potatoes.
Perhaps the most obvious purpose of a table is a surface for our food so that we may eat. But close behind is a table’s second most obvious purpose: a place to talk. Since September we have considered how tables gather ALL people, provide weary workers with a place and time for rest, are a place to eat and a place to love. This month, as we continue to emphasize how God makes God’s self present at tables, I encourage you to ponder your conversations around the table. The table is the primary place where people share the story of their day, the stories of their past and the stories of their hopes in the future. Whether it’s a couple on a date, a team after a big win, or house-guests who have come over for dinner, the table creates space and time for our conversations.
As 2016 begins, I pray that you may make more use of the kitchen and dining room tables in your home. Oftentimes we become so busy we catch a bite in the car where we can’t make eye contact. Or, we go out to eat where our emotions are more guarded. Or, we eat quickly while standing in the kitchen, on our way out the door, or worst of all… we don’t eat at all! A new year provides us a fresh opportunity to budget our time, money and calories differently. I pray that that you prioritize meals with family and friends more highly so that you can hear their stories and so that they can hear yours!