Tomorrow, this post will be shared with the (in)courage Bloom Book Club community. I’ve read along with Bloom since it first began, and this session we’ve been reading Bread & Wine: A Love Letter To Life Around The Table. This book, by Shuana Niequist, is not one I would normally pick up – a genre I never read. But I have to say, it’s an awesome book. It’s caused me to stop and view the table in a new way. Will you pull up a seat, grab a pastry or some coffee, and we’ll learn together how important the table is.

source // here

I grew up with my family, all six of us, gathered ’round the dinner table almost every night. I remember thinking, ‘Not everyone does this, but I’m glad we do,’ but then we all began to grow up and get busy running here and going there and dinner time as a family? It just wasn’t the priority.

With all three boys playing baseball for different teams, almost every night was spent at the ballpark. This meant most meals turned into fast food runs and quick “Hurry and eat before your game!” meals.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s actually nothing wrong about this. It’s just the season my family found itself in. But the community was being built on the baseball field, not around the dinner table with family.

Over time, I kind of just forgot. Forgot that eating together is incredibly important, forgot what we were missing out on, and forgot that we had ever been in a different Dinner Season in the first place.

Two years ago, I remembered. As a freshman in college, no one – I repeat, no one – wants to walk into the cafeteria alone. Our hall had a group message, filled with constant when-are-you-going-to-dinner? and can-I-join? questions.

Every time the response was the same: Yes, please come!

Because just as much as they didn’t want to sit alone, I needed community.

Over grilled chicken and chocolate cake, we bonded. We laughed and got all the awkward out of the way real fast – these relationships were built over shared food and way too many drink refills.

As a rising junior now, I can tell you with complete honesty that the cafeteria is not delicious – in any way. The grilled chicken isn’t cooked through half the time, and the chocolate cake is not what some might call fresh.

I learned real quick how to walk into the caf by myself and find a table without looking like a loner. You know, the ones that sit by themselves at the far tables, pretending to “study?” {I’ve done that, too. No shame.}

The caf doesn’t scare me because I’m not really there for the food. I’ve mastered the art of casually walking up to a table and asking to join them, whether we’re good friends or not. Sometimes they say yes, and sometimes they’re about to leave so I find another table.

Funny as it may seem, I have caf memories. And strangely enough, none of them have anything to do with the one-in-a-million-chance that I picked a banana that isn’t mushy or that they have a kind of cereal I like.

No, the memories I have are from the times we stood in a line at 5:00pm, waiting to go in, and stayed until they kicked us out hours later. We weren’t there for good food, we were there for good community.

We weren’t spending three hours gorging ourselves on all the caf had to offer, we were learning and laughing, sharing and growing together.

We passed the pepper and ate heaping bowls of chocolate ice cream and laughed obnoxiously loud.

Because this I’ve learned: Community is built around the dinner table. It’s not about the food, it’s about the people.

Two years later, none of it has changed. Yes, we all live in different buildings around campus. No, we don’t have a group message asking about dinner each night. But in all the ways that count, we are still community, gathered together by Jesus and food.