There’s something about a table because there’s something about people gathering ’round for a common purpose.
Food. Discussion. Play.
I’ve had these words swirling around my head all week. At some point, writing them well seemed too looming and big and so I turned to Netflix. I’ve successfully re-watched the entire first season of Gilmore Girls and I regret nothing. But now I’m here, sitting in Starbucks with a promise to myself that I won’t leave until I’ve written this thing. 82 words and two cups of coffee later, I still can’t quite figure it out.
Why do I love tables? They don’t seem like anything special, really. You could even argue that they’re common place, something most people sit down at without thinking twice about. And I couldn’t even disagree because your words would be true.
But I think magic happens around the table.
What is so common and ordinary holds the power to become extraordinary. But the magic only happens if those that have gathered come with open hands. Or, perhaps, hands open at the table. I think it can be a little bit of both.
We hold hands to say grace over food. We pass the carrots and play another round of Monopoly and all of it is so very ordinary. But then we sit and we share. We talk with our hands as we share stories.
And that? That isn’t so ordinary.
We gather together to learn, to listen and love, to laugh. We gather to be with one another, to pray, to play. We’re nourished by the sharing of food and story, of open hands that hold open hearts.
The wilderness has a shortage of tables. Tough times come and the ground is shaky. You know life will continue on again tomorrow but you can’t quite figure out what the meaning of today was. It’s dark. Real dark. And suddenly you’re lonely and the figures around you, reaching out hands to help, seem blurry. Distorted. There’s emptiness as far as you can see and all you want is a hand to hold but you’re too scared to reach out. Maybe you’re not sure if you even can because all of your strength has been spent on the sheer effort to get up today.
It’s dark and it’s wild. There are more questions than answers and all you really want to know is if you’ll be okay and when light will come.
You already are and it’s already there. But until you can see it, until you can fill your lungs again and breathe deeply, we’ll prepare the table.
For your homecoming, your return. But don’t wait until “normal” to sit down.
You’re already welcome.
Just as you are.
No strings attached.
The chair is pulled out, the flowers spilling out of the vase, a place setting for you, a card with your name on it.
Oh, we’ll celebrate like mad when you see the light break through. But until then, just take a seat. Words can be said or kept inside. You can smile or cry or observe. We will hold your story safe in our hearts and we will hold your hands when the world is dark.
Because the wilderness needs a few tables, too.
You’re going to be okay but until dawn breaks inside we will sit together. In silence, in prayer, in communion, in weeping, in whatever-you-need-to-see-the-light.
We’ll show up at the table again and again. And if you can’t make it, if you can’t find your way, then we’ll carry you. We’ll make a way through the roof or cut back the shrubs or clear the path. We’ll be the light until you see the Light.
And then, one day, the wilderness will turn to wonder and we’ll marvel together.
The wild can turn to wonder if you just keep your eyes open, keep counting the gifts, the little ones that show up in a blue sky and the glide of a pen against paper.
We’ll make it a habit, writing each one down and sharing them together. We’ll keep looking for wonder and you keep looking for light. Because in all your wandering through the wilderness, you’ll eventually stumble upon the wonder of wonders.
And that? That will change everything. And we’ll gather once more, to remember what has been re-membered, to tell the stories, to say grace, and to worship the One who will one day sit at the head of the table. I’m pretty sure He’ll have the very greatest stories of all.
During my own season of wandering through the wilderness, I was grateful to read Preston Yancey’s new book, Tables in the Wilderness: A Memoir of God Found, Lost, and Found Again. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever read, written in snippets of stories and memories. It’s a look at wondering, wandering, and finding your way to a place of wonder. It wasn’t an easy read, but it was worth the read.
I was provided a copy in exchange for my honest opinion, but you can purchase your own copy here. The book itself is a table, a place to come and remember that you aren’t alone in your wandering, but also a reminder to keep on walking because wonder will return.