The table is big and wide with room all around it. It can fit your smallness. When you want to hide or disappear or not take up too much room, because when you take up room, you’re suddenly noticed. And being noticed is scary.
There’s a gracious host who beckons you to join. Not in a loud, booming voice or with an air of know-it-all-ness or where he makes you self-conscious by shaming you. No, no, this host smiles with a warmth that calls to you; he holds out a chair and a blanket and a glass of wine, wraps them all around you and says simply, “Come and sit awhile. Come and be a part. Come and breathe and leave your burdens here. Come.”
And the light from the table is a soft golden glow, with the scent of home and the warmth of the fireside. It is earthy and raw and glorious; rough-hewn wood and golden bowls and sparkling light and drinks. There are bowls of piping hot food and grapes in perfect little globes. It’s a party in the best possible sense, for it fills you with all the magic and hope of togetherness without a party’s usual companions — guilt and comparison — which rob you of enjoyment.
Instead of fancy dinner guests, the people at the table look as scared and needy as you. But when they look at their host, their bitterness and anger and hurt and the well-traveled ways they protect themselves drop as their shoulders relax. They look into eyes as deep as pools, with always enough room for one more. The food is savored and eyes close, as if in prayer, in grateful recognition of the gloriousness of the senses. For this moment. Where light and acceptance tell you who you are; where calories are not counted; where outfits are not scrutinized, where you never have to wait to appropriately insert yourself into conversation.
The table can take your smallness because it wraps you up into a bigger story. A story where weariness is exchanged for someone else’s strength; where you can give up trying and striving and hoping to do better next time. A story that is played out in food and the meeting of need with recognition — “I see you. Come and eat.” There are no dishes to shame you with, no budget — “for you who have no money, come buy and eat” — no limitations, just an invitation to come.
And your gracious host, with the firelight in his eyes and a voice of mighty rushing waters, sees and feels our hesitation at our own smallness, our own insignificance. So he comes gently and swoops us up in arm as lovely and rough as trees, and carries us, for we cannot get there on our own. He wraps us in robes and places a ring on our finger and sits us at the head of the table, for we have come home. But it is not the gloriousness of the table or the beautiful weight of our new status that makes us giddy and sigh with relief; no, it is the gracious host who names you, who calls you his own, who is the very definition of love itself that causes us to swell with the goodness of this moment.
The host calls to us to come out from our hiding, where we prefer to blanket ourselves in shame — because although it’s poor covering, it’s comfortable and known, while the glory of the table at once beckons but also feels entirely too good to be true, too foreign. But he calls. And his voice is like the otherworldly sounds of stringed instruments that hit our hearts in ways we can’t articulate. He retrieves us from the highways and byways, “Come. Come all you who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest. Come to the table of mercy, prepared with wine and the bread. Nothing is required. Just come.”
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. Please take time to comment below and share this post if it resonated with you.