Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Table is Where Time Stops

Last spring, my lovely friend Leslie read and recommended on her blog the book Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist. I've yet to read the book myself - my public library doesn't carry a copy, and I've taken an oath to reign in my book spending - but I enjoyed both Leslie's review and the passage from the book she chose to share:

"I want you to stop running from thing to thing to thing, and to sit down at the table, to offer the people you love something humble and nourishing, like soup and bread, like a story, like a hand holding another hand while you pray. We live in a world that values us for how fast we go, for how much we accomplish, for how much life we can pack into one day. But I'm coming to believe it's in the in-between spaces that our lives change, and that the real beauty lies...It's about showing up in person, a whole and present person, instead of a fragmented, frantic person, a phone in one hand and to-do list in the other. Put them down, both of them, twin symbols of the modern age, and pick up a knife and fork. The table is where time stops. It's where we look people in the eye, where we tell the truth about how hard it is, where we make space to listen to the whole story..."

In a perfect world, the four of us would sit down for dinner together every evening. In the real world, we all make it to the table at the same time once, maybe twice, a week.

The culprits are many...dance, gymnastics, and karate lessons, baseball practices and games, disc golf league, Tom's work schedule, evening meetings, and occasional travel keep at least one of us from joining the rest at the table almost every night of the week. Healthy, homemade meals still find their way into our bellies, but often in shifts - the kids before their activities while Tom is still at work, and then Tom and I after the their (and our) activities, once the kids have succumbed to sleep.

On evenings when Tom works late and I pack the hours between 3pm and 8pm with homework, laundry, errands, PTO meetings, and chauffeuring Hallie and Will to and from lessons and practices, sitting down to dinner together takes a backseat. Staying on top of our workloads, making sure we have clean clothes to wear the next day, getting everyone where they need to be on time, and remembering to bring everyone home at the end of the night trump 30 minutes of rushed togetherness at the table.

Hallie's table-scape.
But now I feel the need to make a change...to edit - ever so slightly - our list of priorities and follow this wise author's lead.

I'm not shooting for the stars here, folks. My goal is one additional shared evening meal together every week. I will offer my family more than just sustenance every evening. I will share my stories, and listen - really listen - as they tell theirs. I will hold their hands and say a prayer of thanks, not just for the food we eat, but also for the opportunity to spend time with each whole and present person.


  1. Lovely. It's hard isn't it? To truly take the time to push everything away and look one another in the eye? I wish our family could do it more, too, because when we do it's so sweet. Last night we had one of those nights...it wasn't at our table, but we went out to eat and had the most wonderful time—the five of us—around a table at one of our favorite restaurants. These are the moments! xoxo (And I'm sending you a copy of the book for your birthday--you'll love it!) :-)

  2. A meal together can be like a family prayer....."the family that prays together, stays together".