Life around the table — even in the dark

Some of my best memories have been made around a table. Drinks and heavy hors d’oeuvres with loads of friends, intimate dinner parties, lots of laughter, family celebrations, and the daily dinners with my family — sometimes meaningful and lovely, sometimes just long enough to inhale food and shoo the kids from the table for a bit of peace.

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The table is the heart of hospitality. At it we’re invited to pause, to put down our devices, and actually be present in a moment, without the rush on to the next big thing we seem to always be waiting for. No one usually knows the time and effort it takes to put a meal together — to consider spices, to sear the meat and consider everyone’s likes and dislikes, or to figure out what can be scraped together before the next paycheck comes. Life at the table is an intimate act of service — daily for our families and as we extend its life to friends and neighbors — that gives a place and a taste to being a community, where stories are really told. Because, here, at the table, no matter your dietary restrictions or how bad your day, you’re accepted and loved, just as you are. You have a spot at the table. 

It’s really easy for me to wax on and on about the beauties of life around the table — and I’m sure I’ll do that a significant amount this month, because we need a vision to be hospitable and to slow down long enough to create and fail and laugh and love together in tangible ways with those we love and those who need to be welcomed in. But I also want to consider what life looks like right now, with all of the pressures and pains of the daily and how we can still learn to love life around the table. When there’s too much noise, or too many people (or not enough), or not enough money, or you forgot the necessary ingredients.

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Right now I’ve been awoken too early, when it’s dark by three of my four children. The last thing I want to do is cook or greet them with a smile. I want to hide or scream or at least pile under the blankets and enjoy my coffee in peace. But instead, I’m trying to learn and practice all that the table has to offer, in all its messy glory. Being at the table together is about the people in front of me, not just the times that I’m throwing an elegant dinner party for my adult friends. So today, we’re huddled under blankets since the heat hasn’t kicked in yet, and enjoying a simple breakfast of granola and the breakfast cookies I made up from Bread and Wine yesterday (another early morning). I’m doing my best to smile and I lit the candle for a bit of beauty amidst the too-early and too-dark thoughts of my own heart — where I crowd out people for my own comfort, and resort to bitterness and blame when life isn’t how I think it should be. Little antidotes to create space, not just at the table, but in my own preoccupied heart.

I hope you’ll enjoy me for life around the table this month — not just as we celebrate the holidays, but for all those daily moments that we are together and build, layer by layer, what it means to live life together. Take part in the conversation by commenting, subscribing on the right-hand sidebar and joining Circling the Story on Facebook. It’ll be a good conversation.

This month I’m writing on life Around the Table. I hope you’ll join me, cook with me, and invite others in to your real and virtual spaces.

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