Come to the Table
We sat at my kitchen table, the three of us, one regular houseguest and one guest I’ve not seen in five years. The little scuffy table--the one that sits kind of low and bears scratches and candle wax burns and begs for refinishing--became, as is its custom, a place of communion and exposure and vulnerability.
We talked, catching up and listening to each other as another set of guests visited behind us in and out of the room. Conversation remained somewhat casual in nature. There was laughter and an occasional interruption from Journey the dog.
I asked a question, and the look on her face, the one whom neither myself nor my regular visitor had seen in so long, changed the tone of everything. The rest of the voices faded, as if only the three of us were present, as if the house itself muted and fused all else into the background, like an aperture shift on a camera.
My question seemed innocent enough. I had asked for insight, for the perspective of one who doesn’t live here. What I learned, about myself and my friend, in a matter of perhaps ten minutes, now abides in me, nestled in my cellular structure as a nutrient to stretch and grow me. I listened to her, watched her communicate, and she gave her tears to us to share, to feel, to cry.
The table works like that. Holding broken bread, for nourishment and sustenance, torn for the partaking. We taste together the salt of another’s sadness, the rich decadence of another’s joy. Sipping crushed grapes, experiencing the strange sweet and bitter of dark wine, we feel it move down our throats and into our bellies, a tincture for the whole body and mind and spirit.
Countless conversations of self-disclosure, forgiveness, courage, vision, story, challenge. A mutual exchange between folks, over coffee and tea and wine, over grits and eggs and vegetables and pie. We receive. We give.
Other scuffed up, marker-ed, etched tables have been at the center of our kitchens over the years. This one isn’t especially special. Except in the way we pay attention, except in the way that we take note of how the table becomes, over and again, a sacred altar of sorts, a holy invitation for us and whoever gathers here.