We eat dinner around the table in our home every night, apart from of course the nights when Dave declares it a ‘TV dinner’ night (usually Friday’s); the children yelp with delight whilst I have visions of spills and pizza and pesto and dog paws mixed together on our leather sofas. They balance their plates and fight over film preferences whilst I catch drips and drinks and the looks on their faces; which are usually pretty beautiful and relaxed; I guess everyone needs a break from routine!
Tonight is Wednesday; so we were most definitely around the table. And we had a guest, so we served up flash fry steak, a mix of small white and sweet potatoes cut into quarters smothered in olive oil and pink Himalayan salt baked till crispy, and of course a luscious salad made of spinach and whatever else I could find in the bottom of the fridge; chopped apple, cheese and red peppers. We inched the 7th chair around the table and slowly served up the steak and potatoes with surround sound of “please pass the water, I don’t like spinach, where’s my Elsa doll”, you know the drill! Then we offer up the question ‘who’d like to pray’ and it’s always Sienna, followed by Micah; it’s always the same words and they never cease to bring a smile of gratitude and love across my face. But then the talking does.not.stop! There’s the chatter and clanking and occasional pinching, there’s crunching and munching – and thanking. Most nights Dave and I naively try to ‘catch up’ around the table and frequently get frustrated at our inability to get a word in edgeways.
But there are days when the beauty around this table catches my breath; the repeated rhythms of chopping and cooking and serving and saying thanks are indicative of the heartbeat of our family. This table has won our hearts, fed our appetites, caught our tears and revived our souls, this table has watered weary travellers and maybe even entertained angels. This table has been the birth place of dreams and the laying down of schemes; it holds married secrets and whispers of weakness.
And even when it’s not surrounded by chatter and things that matter; the table stands as a significant place of gathering in our home; a visceral holding place of all things family. Like now, all is quite – I’m tapping out these words late into the night, the food has been cleared away and most of todays table inhabitants are sleeping. I can see on it a cloth doll in a white dress with brown woolen plaits, a pair of pink patterned socks and a book strewn across the wipe clean cover.
And all is still until tomorrow where again, it will get its fill.
Your wife will be like a fruitful grapevine, flourishing within your home. Your children will be like vigorous young olive trees as they sit around your table.
Psalm 128: 3