Everything Changes Around the Table
Everything changes around the table.
I spoke this last week at a local MOPS group. I was there early to ensure everything was in order and decided to sit down at one of the tables. As moms piled in, grabbing coffee (lots of it) and breakfast treats, my table begin to fill. We exchanged names, which of course is the cordial thing to do. But the exchange of names was quickly displaced by the swapping of stories. Rather not surprisingly, our stories centered around one thing: our kids. At first, it was about that one pair of worn-in red cowboy boots that her little girl insisted on wearing every single day (emphasis added). And another about the cartoon one momma put on for her son to watch allowing her a moment of peace and rest for her tired and exhausted 38 week pregnant body.
It started superficial, as it often does and should. But that changed.
Quite quickly we found we had more than just our girl’s strong-willed fashion sense in common. We discovered that two women at our table had gone through IVF treatments. They entered into each other’s worlds with ease. Bonded together by shared experience, tied by collective tears wept over hurt and disappointment. Both, at one time faced with the same gut wrenching questions; Will I ever get pregnant? Is adoption the road I must take? What is wrong with me that something that comes so naturally to others seems so unnatural and impossible for me?
And things changed. We entered into each other stories. And the power of that resonated deeply, filling the air with it’s significance.
We sat at a table, we drank coffee, and we shared stories. It was basic and straightforward, nothing fancy about it. But buried under the mundane is the mystical. We can’t always pinpoint it and it’s hard to form in words, but those moments shared between us on a Friday morning became sacred.
This is what happens when we gather, break bread, and open ourselves to others to tell and hear. To receive and give. We remember that our commonalities far out weigh our differences. And we are reminded that in more ways than not, we are one.
I was asked recently in an interview why I chose to write a Bible study and not just a book. I hadn’t actually thought about that question, at least not posed in such directness as it was. But my reaction was immediate and from the heart, “Everything changes around the table.”
Sure, there are book clubs, questions for reflection, opportunities for discussion with just a regular run-of-the mill book. Don’t hear me diss them, they have a VERY important role. But what I had been called to form was to have it’s roots in community. Yes, there would be the work you did on your own, homework designed for individual participation. But the answers you arrived at on your own, would echo with even greater significance in the context of the answers reached by others, those that sat across the table from you.
The stories of five women from thousands of years ago would grasp and touch your own stories. You would find yourself in them. And then you would find yourself in those around the table.
This is the power and beauty of shared stores and broken bread.
We are not alone. We are stronger together. And only around the table can we discover the greater story we are called to live, but have yet to inhabit.
So, if you are longing for this kind of connection, don’t wait for it to find you. Find it. Grab a book. (It just so happens that I just released my own Bible Study ) Grab some grub and pull up a chair. I dare you to not be transformed.