Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Spirituality of a Table

Dining Table
-At the Desert Retreat House-

This morning,  before going out into the garden for my morning meditation, I sat at my dining room table. It has been our table for over 30 years now.  

As I ran my hands over its still-shiny wood, I was overwhelmed with a flood of memories - all those meals served at that table at which sat all those people over all those many years.

With my hands on the table, I saw the faces of two babies, our now-grown sons, smearing their food and laughing with delight. I saw the face of my spouse who sat with me at that table almost every single day of our many years of married life. I saw the faces of hundreds if not thousands of guests who sat there with us at that table - some were good friends, others just acquaintances, some were even strangers, and sometimes even enemies.

We often engaged in lively discussion around the table - laughing together, sometimes crying together, sometimes debating with one another well into the night. 

Many of those people who once sat there with us have now died. Others have moved out of our lives and we no longer see them. 

This morning, I thought to myself , "Ah what stories it could tell if that table could talk."  Then it hit me, "But, of course, the table can talk." I realized, in fact,  that some of the very DNA of all those many people who sat at that table over the years is actually and physically still there in the wood I was touching. 

So, this morning, just sitting at an empty table and touching its wood was a time of wonderful communion for me. Yes, even after all the years,  all of us were still there at the table - all of us still belonging to one another.

As I think about it, in my lifetime, "eating together at a common table" has always been extremely nourishing to me as I have walked the spiritual path. I have found that sitting at a table and eating together has been as uplifting to my spirit as praying or meditating, or going to church - sometimes even more so. 

It's no wonder to me that "eating together at a common table"  has always occupied a prominent place in all the rituals and spiritual practices of all the great world religions. Muslims break their fast at a shared meal. Jews share a common seder meal to celebrate the Passover (they'll be doing this on this very night). Every Sunday, Christians gather for a communion meal as they share bread and drink wine in memory of Jesus.

In the Christian calendar, today is Holy (Maundy) Thursday - the day before Jesus died. 

Before he was crucified,  Jesus sat down with his good friends and together they shared a "Last Supper." Tonight Christians will commemorate that Last Supper as they gather around altars and holy tables all over the world. They will eat bread and drink wine, and in the sharing of this common meal, they will enter into a "holy communion," everyone belonging to one another - those who have long died, those who still live, those yet to be born, all belonging to one anther, and together belonging to the ONE.  

Tables are such powerful places for walking the spiritual path. 

This morning, as I run my hands over the wood of that holy table in my own dining room,   I am filled with immense gratitude - so very thankful for the many people who have been, continue to be, and will yet be part of my life. 

In a world of fast-food restaurants and "grabbing a quick bite" lifestyles, I commit myself to continue to engage in the discipline of "eating together at a common table" - where we all belong to one another and together belong to the ONE. 

My table will always hold a central place in our home- so many surprises yet to come.  

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