We sat down to eat at the actual dinner table two nights ago. And have done so three nights this week. Why is that so important? Well just let me explain.
We have always been a close family. We are usually always together. It has only been in the last year that we have been split on occasion between two children in their activities. We always pile in one bed to say evening prayers and have several on our list that we pray for each night. Friday nights are normally family nights where we just hang out and take a moment to exhale before starting the busy weekends. We rarely miss a dinner together. But to be honest, we eat in front of the TV. Conversation is never scarce but there is always noise from the big screen. So there we are, the four of us, two dogs and Adam Levine from "The Voice". I just had to throw him in there.
I applaud you if you always eat at the dinner table. I can also say that I don't feel that we are any less of a close family because we don't. The brutal truth is that my table is where I throw my mail. My table is decorated by a pile of bills and to do lists and papers to sign and return to school. It has clothes that need to be returned to the store on it. My table is the place where the busy life has found its resting place. My messy table is a reminder to me that I need my life to slow down just a bit.
So the other day I had just enough motivation in me to clear the kitchen table. That consisted of me moving my piles to other places in the house but nonetheless my table was clean. When the kids saw it they requested that we have dinner at the table. So we turned the television off and there was suddenly no noise. There were no distractions. We just sat and talked as a family. It was so refreshing! Of course there was still "gross" boy conversations going on. And big brother and little brother still had to throw jabs at each other. But there were no outside distractions. For a moment, life stopped long enough for me to catch my breath. I actually could hear myself breathe and it was Heavenly.
My idea of Heaven is no schedules, no alarm clocks, no deadlines. My Heaven is peace. I imagine it to be a place where I can stop to smell the fragrances in the air, a place where I can lay my head down and not think about my next move. Don't get me wrong, I love my crazy life. I have so many memories running from home to work to practices to meetings to gyms and back home again. But sometimes I want to be in the still and in the quiet. I faithfully pray and I lay so much out there to God. I call out name after name each morning. But I forget to be quiet. So I find myself turning down the radio and waiting. I don't know about you but I am not good at waiting. So I give God a few minutes to answer and when I don't hear anything I turn the radio back up. Why can't I just shut up sometimes and listen?
Like my kitchen table, I just want to keep piling everything up. I am in a hurry so I leave everything on the table. The "stuff" becomes part of the table and before I know it, those things are covering up the purpose of the table. That rectangular piece of wood was meant for gathering my family together. It should be the part of my home to seat the most important people to me not to merely be a storage place for paper and dust. I have been created to do more than store the junk and worries of this world. My purpose is far greater. I have to be the best "Hope" that I can be. There are people in my path and in my circle who need me to stop and lend a hand or lend an ear. There will be those that need me to lift them up when they are down. My kids need me to "look" when they want to show me a trick and "listen" when they need help with a problem. So in the midst of my fast-paced, upside down world, I know that I need to stop and take a deep breath. I need to rid myself of the worry and the concerns this life brings. I need to recognize the blessings that are right in front of me. I need to cleanse my mind and my heart of anything that doesn't need to be there and gather myself with the ones I love and the One who loves me.
I don't know what your dinner table looks like. Maybe you get to eat at your table every night. Maybe it is beautifully decorated with all the place settings. Maybe you eat there alone and you are missing someone. Maybe you are like us and you eat in front of the television. Maybe you never have time to eat as a family. Whatever the case, I hope it works for you. If you are missing out because life just seems to be moving in all sorts of crazy directions, I challenge you to take a deep breath. Get a fresh perspective and know that there is more to life than all the noisy distractions. Take time to listen. Take time to smell. Take time to touch. Take time to taste. Take time to see. Be that someone that others want to gather around and do life with.
"Taste and see that Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him."