"What He ordains for us each moment is what is most holy, best, and most divine for us." Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Come to the Table

Someone asked me a couple of weeks ago if my husband and I still sit at the table to eat each evening now that all the kids are gone. My answer: "Yes, ma'am; and with placemats." You see, when my husband and I bought our current home some 11 years ago, one of the features I loved the most was the space it had to not only host my large breakfast room table left to me by my grandfather that spreads out to seat 10, but also the beautiful dining room table and chairs I inherited from my great aunt some 26 years ago -- not to mention the trestle table my brother built for us when we married and is now a focal point on my sun porch. No doubt, my love for entertaining and having people put their feet under my table was inherited from my mother. But I think that's only a portion of it. What is it about a table that brings us back again and again?

I think, for one, the table represents acceptance. That was never more evident than in the biblical account of David and Mephibosheth, the son of David's covenant friend Jonathan and the grandson of Saul. After King Saul died, the new king, David, summoned lame Mephibosheth to come and dine at his own kingly buffet -- to pull those lame feet under his royal dining table. Mephibosheth, one who should have been either killed or stripped of every royal right, was instead marked as "Accepted!" characterized by being invited to the table. When we invite people to place their feet under our table, we are virtually saying, "I accept you."

But the table also represents intimacy. The "breaking of bread" together extends much further than just sharing some food. The food, the drinks, the words, the stories -- are they not all intimate ways in which we give our lives to each other? I remember one occasion when I invited a widower -- a greeter at Wal-Mart -- to come and have supper with us. My husband, children and I sat around the table for hours as he told stories of when he served on a battleship in WWII. I've never seen one so emotionally distressed and lonely from a loss come so alive as he remembered and shared his life with us.

On another occasion, I invited a group of 6 brothers who were performing at the GA National Fair to come have a little southern lunch with me and my brothers. They came not only from somewhat of a different culture but also from a very different religious background. And before it was over, the feet under the tables totaled 32, but a better time had never been had.
The guests have been as diversified as the stories. Church folks, family members, revival speakers, out of town visitors, hurricane evacuees, and like I said, even a Wal-Mart greeter. At one time or another, we've used all the tables -- even a card table draped with lace and set for 4, placed in front of a warm fire on a cold winter night.

You see, when we eat together, we become vulnerable to one another. Weapons are not worn at the table. It is a place of unity and peace. Or should be. The supper meal can also be the most dreaded part of the day because of the silence that so starkly contrasts the intimacy of the table. It can be almost unbearable; the silence deafening. But a really peaceful and joyful meal? Ah, now that belongs to the greatest moments of life. And I've shared many of them.

While I know it's not the correct response, I now understand why a person's decline to a dinner invitation has often wounded me. It's more than just a meal at stake. It's more than just a desire to eat together. Whether it's two or twenty-two, sharing a meal, putting one's feet under the table with another, is the most intimate expression of our deepest desire to give ourselves to each other and to BE the bread, not just break it.

Just an ordinary moment...

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Wasp Spray in the Hand of a Pastor

As I walked into the sanctuary this past Sunday to prepare the piano and myself for worship, I noticed a small wasp nest up in the corner of the portico, and with it, its inhabitants buzzing around their home. I quickly opened and closed the door and went in. There I found the pastor standing at his pulpit chatting with one of his parishioners. I excused my interruption and said, "Before I forget it, I wanted to let you know that there's a wasp nest just outside the door." The pastor asked for the exact whereabouts and then proceeded to the designated area. A moment later, while I was going over some of my pieces at the keyboard, he came back through the worship area with a can in his hand headed again to the covered porch. He was gone for just a moment, but as he re-entered and made his way to his study for some last minute preparation and prayer, I wondered if he truly knew the spiritual significance of what he had just done.

In the physical sense, this pastor had, in a way, just fought to protect the well-being of his people -- especially the young children who would be running in and out. Quite literally, those wasps were nasty little creatures that could become very easily provoked when messed with. But the unassuming and meek manner with which the pastor walked back through the sanctuary revealed to me a depth of servitude that spoke about more than just a routine spraying to rid the doors of the sanctuary from pests.

I thought about all the times this man has bowed to pray for a parishioner who is in the pit of despair. Or the accounts he has bent over a hospital bed and taken the hand of someone who's dying, offering to them a prayer and a word of hope. Or of the times he has fallen to his knees and begged God to intercede in a loved one's life. I wondered of the moments he has pointed a can of spray at the enemy of someone's soul and said, "You will not have this one!" I speculated of the countless times he has gathered the people within his charge in his spiritual arms and asked God to protect them.

Yes, as he casually walked back to his office with his can of wasp spray, I saw a man mighty in the Lord who attends to this particular community of faith and goes to battle daily to protect those in his care.

Just an ordinary moment...

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A Little Trim

I went out on my deck last week with my kitchen scissors in hand to cut some dry branches off a few of my potted tomato plants. On more than one occasion, a vine from the Confederate Jasmine that sweeps around the outside of the deck had poked its way through the trellis and wrapped itself around the neck of one my little budding greeneries. I would carefully remove the creeper and then with a quick snip of the wrist, dissect that particular spike from its source. One by one ... snip, snip, snip -- until I had made my way down the row of my vegetable "garden." But for some strange reason, I couldn't stop. I moved on around to the outside of the deck and kept "trimming" until I had cut the entire length of the Jasmine -- WITH MY SCISSORS! My right hand was not only bloody from rubbing places raw, it cramped for days.

Now what you must understand here, if you have not already deduced from the first paragraph, is that I am not a natural when it comes to gardening and have even less skills when it comes to landscaping. That is my husband's job. He does, has always done, and will always do the keeping and pruning of the yard. And he does it very well. I esteem him so highly in that. So, when I stepped back and looked at what I had done in this moment of insanity, all I could think was, "He's going to kill me." It wasn't like buying a new pair of shoes and bringing them home and sticking them in the closet so he won't know. I had "manicured" the shrubbery for crying out loud! And may I say it again? WITH MY SCISSORS! He was going to notice.

So after my morning of horticulture, I cleaned up a bit and went to pick my husband up for lunch. We had a delightful time at my friend's new restaurant that's just opened up in town. And rightly so, knowing it could quite possibly be my last meal. So on the way home, I casually asked, "Have you ever had a bad haircut?" He quickly remembered back to a time when we lived in Vidalia and he went to the barbershop downtown. He put on his cap to come home and the thing came way down over his ears. Seems the barber got to talking and forgot to quit cutting until the associate next to him leaned over and whispered something in his ear. Yes, we laughed about it again and both agreed that bad haircuts have a way of growing out, thus there's really no use to get upset over them.

I paused a moment in the conversation and then I said, "I trimmed the jasmine today." No other words or comments were needed. He would know the rest of the story.

A box of multiple sized Band-Aids -- $2.89
A pair of kitchen shears -- $9.99
A trip to the chiropractor -- $40.00
A word fitly spoken (Prov. 25:11) -- PRICELESS

Just an ordinary moment ...