at the table
Here's what I love about the table:
It invites. It gathers people together to be nourished and connected, to share stories. It can always squeeze in 'just one more'. It creates a space for us to voice those vulnerable, beautiful things- the true things about ourselves and each other- a space for humility and honesty and loud laughter. It becomes a safe, sacred place. Many of the best conversations I've had have happened around the table. In the words of Anne Morrow Lindbergh, "Good conversation is as stimulating as black coffee, and just as hard to sleep after." What a place for such talks.
For my introvert self, a hot bath and a good book are how I usually recharge best, with one exception : a dinner party. (i.e. possibly the least introverted thing besides like, going to prom.) I love the planning- the menu, the decorations, the table topics. I love the food preparation, preferably something on each burner and dessert in the oven. I love the sound of laughter in the kitchen or out around the fire pit while Rob grills. But my very favorite part is when we settle down around the table and ask questions- everything from 'what's the last lie you told' to 'what's your favorite color crayon'. We had a retreat for our band from church recently and had a nice outdoor dinner for them. We set little mismatched glass jars of white tulips and stock on a burlap table runner surrounded by fresh eucalyptus and votive candles. My dad made BBQ chicken and we ate under the twinkle lights and bundled the babies up in blankets and footie pajamas as the temperature steadily dropped. Robin invited us all to go around and affirm each other. Every single person got affirmed by the others, and it was like we could see grace overflowing our cups. That's what the table is for.
Afterwards, we moved to the campfire and made s'mores as one of our friends and a local pastor talked to us about how to practice the presence of God, how to enjoy the friendliness of God. It was like a good long drink for my spirit. We went to sleep smiling that night because we were all more inclined to believe the beautiful truth about ourselves, rather than the negative criticism constantly playing in our minds. We went to sleep feeling like God had indeed been a good friend, huddled around the campfire with us.
I hope that when you have the opportunity to open your home - no matter how inconvenient it is or how unprepared you feel or how introverted you are- you throw open your front door or fire up the grill. I hope you create space for those vulnerable times, those truth-telling times. If you feel like you're fumbling for conversation, here are a few of our favorite table topics:
• if you could invent any holiday, what would it be called and how would people celebrate it?
• (Rob's favorite) if you could be a blade of grass planted ANYWHERE, where would it be? (His answer- the Shire. Quality.)
• what is one of your favorite childhood memories?
• what is your all-time favorite book?
• If you could have written and gotten credit for any (book, play, song, etc.) what would it be?
• what is your pet peeve? (Mine- when I show people one picture on my phone and they scroll through my entire camera roll. EXCUSE ME.)
• And if everyone knows each other pretty well, we like to ask 'what's something you love about this person, how have they encouraged you or made life sweeter?'
I'd love to hear if you have any tried and true table topics as asking questions is my favorite :)