I live in a small studio right across from Bend’s equivalent to Central Park; minus the multi-million person metro surrounding it. I used to own a house and so I had actual furniture for a season of time, but when I sold the house I sold everything else. This left me without a kitchen table for a number of years. For many people this would be a huge problem but I mostly eat at our local food carts so the absence of a table wasn’t a problem for me, until a recent study I was doing about, you guessed it, tables.
To save you the details there is a guy in the Bible named Mephibosheth who is crippled. David the King wanted to show him kindness because of his respect for his father, Saul. So David invites Mephibosheth to his table, the King’s table. This was not an invite for the night, it was an invite for life.
Whenever I read this story, I can hear the whispers from other dignitaries who may have been joining the meal as Mephibosheth was carried to the table: “Who is this man?” “Is it a military man wounded in battle?” “Is he straight off the street?” Knowing the real story, Mephibosheth didn’t do anything significant to belong there, but he could sit at the highest position in the land because of an invitation from the King. It really is all about who you know.
I can imagine as time went on, Mephibosheth had more to offer everyone. Stories of his life as the son of a previous King. Perhaps insight on what it meant to have a disability and see people from a different vantage point. Everyone has something to offer when we are sitting equal at the table.
So I went out to local store and bought a table and I even bought chairs! I wanted this table to represent something in my life, a marker, so to speak. That when it comes to life and the decisions we make, it’s better to have a full table than an empty one. Maybe you grew up in a family that ate together all the time. Grandparents, siblings, family, friends, and everyone had something to contribute. One person told the best stories, one made everyone laugh, one prepared the meal, another (usually like me who doesn’t cook often) does the dishes. Everyone who sits at the table, no matter their history, can create and contribute all together. Simply one person’s presence can change the demeanor of an entire group.
The table is an important picture for me of people building each other up in community. The teams I sit on, the family I have, or the friends I eat out with are all part of my tribe and table. Each person is there for a reason, everyone contributes, and it’s a beautiful collage. It’s a safe space, and it’s how life should be.