i’ve always known that i’m deeply relational. i crave connection, opening up our hearts and baring our souls, and typically, that happens for me around the table. there’s something about sharing a meal with others that binds you together. the table somehow becomes holy ground, and it’s all i can do to not gulp deep of that sacred air and take off my sandals and bend myself low. people talk at the table, not just formalities and niceties but real, honest, open conversation about how we’re doing, really, and all the things we’ve been too afraid to speak aloud. these; these are the things of substance, of weight, of glory–these are the things that matter.
Photo by Tim Samoff on Flickr; Creative Commons
these days i’m thinking purposefully about the hard things, the questions that don’t have easy answers, spending a lot of time in the gray areas. i don’t want to debate, don’t have time to argue. i’m not interested in keeping score, in who’s right and who’s wrong, who’s in and who’s out. i just want to sit with brothers and sisters at the table, to look past our differences and revel in our common ground, for all of us to forgive one another our flaws and embrace who we are in this, the in-between, the not-yet. our stories are still being written; let’s simply celebrate this chapter, shall we?
lately, i find myself frequently in the thin places. life, seasons, everything–it’s all changing, and i feel wildly unprepared. when i strip away the layers and stare truth in its face, i guess it all comes down to the fact that i’m afraid. afraid of giving up control. afraid of the unknown. afraid of loss, of coming up empty-handed. and i’ve been trying to keep it all inside but then i can’t keep myself from unraveling; and the tears and the stress and the feelings, they all just spill out everywhere. it feels messy; *i* feel messy. and yet:: i consistently am gifted with people who look past the mess and invite me to sit at their table. and there, at the table, i find i can simply be. i can cry and spill and ask the hard questions, without parameters, without rules and regulations:: just me, being who and where i am in this moment, for really, when it comes down to it, this is the only moment that matters.
i dream of sitting at a table in the wilderness, with the misfits, with the messy, with those of us who have wild hearts and dirty hands. when i close my eyes, i can see it:: all of us, welcomed, seated ‘round a slab of unfinished wood, faces squinting in the sunlight, holding hands and looking into each other’s eyes and getting glimpses of on earth as it is in heaven.
“i want you to love with wild and gorgeous abandon, throwing yourself into each day, telling the truth about who you are and who you are not, writing a love song to the world itself and to the God who made every inch of it.
we don’t come to the table to fight or defend. we don’t come to prove or conquer, to draw lines in the sand or to stir up trouble. we come to the table because our hunger brings us there. we come with a need, with fragility, with an admission of our humanity. the table is the great equalizer, the level playing field many of us have been looking everywhere for. the table is the place where the doing stops, the trying stops, the masks are removed, and we allow ourselves to be nourished, like children…
the table is a place of safety and rest and humanity, where we are allowed to be as fragile as we feel. if the home is a body, the table is the heart, the beating center, the sustainer of life and health.
come to the table.”
(quoted from bread and wine by shauna niequist, emphasis mine)