When I found out we were having another baby last summer one of my first thoughts were...we will need a new table. Now, that may seem weird to some, but to others it makes sense. You see, we would be bumping our family alone up to six and that is what fit around our then current dining room table. The place we dwelled for most meals morning, noon, and night and the place we called home when it was time for a variety of other things too. 6 chairs. 6 of us. One would think that is perfect. Not me. It's not enough.
So when baby #4 arrived my thoughts had already well entertained just how to fit a bigger table into our home. Because not only did the six of us need a place to gather and share food and thoughts and fun...but as always, my table needed space for the friends and family that we so often love to gather with us. The little friends and the big friends and the grandmas and grandpas and neighbors and cousins and aunts and uncles and anyone else who may show up or need a meal with a family of six. I grew up knowing that food was always plenty for whoever happened to stop by and there was always room for "just one more". And I plan to keep the tradition of "table service" in my home too. I am thrilled to have a table with more then 6 seating standing in the biggest room of our home today... the biggest room used to put people across from each other instead of away from each other and used to mute out the screens of all kinds and see the real faces of real people. What a celebration to bring in new. But what is a celebration of a new table without a farewell to the old...
So here it is...
Dear New Table Family,
I am surprised at the emotions I had when it came time to say goodbye to that old table of ours. I guess I probably shouldn't have been, as that new table of yours has many memories carved into it...some literally. I hope it will bring you as much joy as it did us for so many years.
It's a good one, I tell ya. It knows how to gather the loud ones and bring them to a quiet level where yummy things can nurture their bodies and gentle ones can nurture their souls. That table and those chairs can remind us that we are connected and what we share across that table is nothing compared to what we share around it.
It is a place that can handle daily do-overs. It makes a great spot for breaking the ice or letting the elephant in the room or whichever hard topic is on the tip of your tongue that day. That table has had many do-overs happen at it and it knows a do-over is sometimes all the grace a person needs to try again and succeed this time.
Lots of milk will get spilled on it I'm sure... but remember, it's just milk and whoever cried about spilled milk? No need to when gathered around that table...it knows all too well that spilled milk just means able bodies are learning new things and we all need to spill a bit in life before we figure it out.
You'll probably put a burnt something or other on it some night, but don't worry....that table knows that too. Knows that when you come to it feeling burnt out at the end of the day, to just look across the table. There sits your best friend. And they know that burnt out moment doesn't define who you are. We all need a place to land at the end of our days and those chairs can hold a lot. So just bring it to the table and hand it over...all the crusty hard edges that only He can clean up.
And don't forget the sweet things. Christmas cookies and pie crusts and birthday cakes and You are Special plates and corn freezing...celebrate it all. Around that table. It loves a good celebration...whether you are blessing a little one or baking for the neighbors or eating a harvest full of garden. Be thankful for all the sweet things, but mostly the sweet ones placed around your table.
Now that table does come with a few scratches. But those scratches are scars of what has happened before you. And every scar has a story that at one time was a deep wound. But wounds heal and that table will still work just the same it did from day one. Sometimes better because sometimes we know how to live better after a few wounds. So let wounds be wounds and be willing to let the scars left behind remind you He is not done with us yet.
The nice thing about that table is it cleans up well. So get messy. Let the kids get messy. Let that table get messy. Because each day is a new morning to come back...a clean start. Gather your people messy and all and let that place be a new beginning...as many times as you need it.
I couldn't be happier with the new family that old table found. I know it will be well loved, well used, well gathered around... See deeply into all those that gather around your new table. And remember grace is a way to live, not just what you say every time you sit down there.
Enjoy! I pray that table serves you for years to come...