I’ve been going through old boxes this past week.  My ever-evolving journey to downsize my life continues– own less, live more. I noticed something interesting this past go round – an unintentional collection of photos I had gathered over the years of people I love simply sitting around kitchen tables. 

It kinda moved me.

I’ve always had this thing about kitchen tables. I think back to how many life-changing moments have happened around them.

It’s at the table I did life with my family. We didn’t rely on timelines or feeds to get the updates on what was going on in each others’ lives – we simply had conversations.  Remember those days, ya’ll?

It’s at the table we celebrated birthdays and worked on jigsaw puzzles and painted and drew and maybe did some homework a time or two. We told lots and lots of stories and had entire conversations using nothing but movie quotes.

My grandparents taught us contract rummy, and cribbage, and pinochle around Nana’s kitchen table.  I can still remember visiting my grandparents in New Orleans – the highlight of every trip was when we tried to squeeze two grandparents and seven grandkids around that tiny table in that tiny kitchen.  We’d always try and beat Paw – and typically just when you thought you’d have him, he’d wink and it was all over.  That table heard a lot of banter and smack talk – and a lot of laughter.

Four siblings. Nana’s Table.

And over the years, I have gathered around tables where I found new family. The kitchen table became a place to dream with others – to cry – to pray – to be ridiculously silly – to welcome new friends – to hear incredible adventures – to sit in awe of God and one another and to find healing. 

Community Cookout, Cairo, IL
Community Meal, St. Joe’s, Cairo, IL

There’s just something powerful about gathering around a table, isn’t there?

But I’ve kinda been wondering– could a practice so simple – have world changing consequences?

I realize the kitchen table is a very unassuming location for terraforming the planet, but hear me out.

We live in a world so teeming with division and hatred and misunderstanding and taking sides and placing blame and walking in shame. Somehow it feels like we wiped the human face off of whole people groups, slapped on a whole bunch of generalizations and forgot once upon a time the very people we villanize were the apple of a mother’s eye or just one of the kids in the neighborhood we rounded up to play kickball.  Life just has a way of roughing all of us up. Fear makes us do the craziest things – believe the most absurd lies. I have yet to meet someone who is not in need of compassion and kindness – and a reminder that they are loved and their life matters (me included). 

I realize my heart to heal and love is much smaller than those my kitchen table could host.

But maybe I could start one table full at a time. Maybe we all could.

Maybe we could invite and pursue and remind people we value their company. Maybe we could listen to their stories, their journey, their childhood, their passions, their fears.  Maybe we could be each others safe place to cry and process and heal and ask questions and reveal we don’t have it all together.

Jazz Brunch, Shiloh Farm, Redding, CA

Maybe we could teach each other our favorite games or share our favorite recipes.

And maybe, if we practice enough, the sound of fellowship around the table will drown out the sound of all the yuk breathing down the neck of humanity.

It may sound like a rather small way to release the love of God and transform the world – but you know what God does in the presence of your enemies?

He sets a table.