Friday, September 01, 2006

The Kitchen Table

Carl Scovel once suggested that a really good symbol for the Christian faith is a table. We remember Jesus eating at table with his friends, giving teachings at the table at various times. We remember that that was the last thing he did with the disciples. It is a good symbol.

This summer I sat at table with loved ones. Most of what rejuvenated and made me more whole in July and August was spending time around the table breaking bread (or chips and salsa) with friends and family. So simple, this feeding of body and soul.

The longer I am in ministry, the more I see that everything in life is dealt with around the kitchen table.

Cancer diagnoses. Sudden death. A child run away. Betrayal and infidelity discovered in some sordid manner. Suicide. Car accidents. Criminal convictions. Intervention and rehab. Abuse. Garden variety scandal. Devastating depression.

The pastor shows up at the house and we sit at table.
Someone, usually a kindly family member, sets out a bowl of blueberries, or plates of pie. Someone cries and quietly shreds a napkin as he or she talks. We stay at the table, there are long silences. We stir our tea. We breathe together. Whatever catastrophe has brought us together, the moment is manageable. The kitchen table is the ultimate safe zone. Whatever it is, life will go on. When we're around the table, we know it. Sometimes there is even weak laughter. Or, amazingly enough, even hearty laughter. The kitchen table can make that happen.

I am wearing a small cross around my neck right now. If they made little silver kitchen tables, I swear I'd switch.

(Painting by Julie Cobden)


Blogger Pink Shoes said...

This is a beautiful post. Thanks for sharing.

Blogger Berrysmom said...

This is so true, PB. There is a poem I heard Garrison Keillor read once on The Writers Almanac titled "Perhaps the World Ends Here," by Joy Harjo; I believe it's in her collection titled The Woman Who Fell From the Sky, though of course I can't find it now. It's about how so much of life happens at the kitchen table.

And then there is the wonderful passage from Thoreau about the bug in the table, which gnawed its way out of the wood after many decades, perhaps warmed by a teapot or cup on the table. He writes about the wonders of life yet to be discovered, saying "the sun is but a morning star..."

There's good sermon material in there. Maybe for Thanksgiving?

Blogger Juliana said...

You follow ably in the footsteps of Rachel Naomi Remen here. It's powerful and genuine and very tender writing, food for thought for those of us contemplating a life providing pastoral care to our communities.

Here's to hoping the warmth and friendships you felt this summer carry you through the colder seasons, when everyone's stores of hope can run thin.

Blogger Ron said...

Thanks PB. I bet someone can come up with a table icon that would work; maybe the cup and bread overlaid? no designer here but know a good idea when I hear one. The time is ripe, not to supercede the cross off course (got two of them on now that my girls got me, bless their neo-pagan hearts). But your post also reminded me that despite all the drawbacks I sometimes feel around this time of the year for the experiment here, it is a blessing to be doing micro-church, where all of our gatherings involve a meal.


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