Do you have a favorite household chore? I find every reason to procrastinate when folding laundry or scrubbing toilets. I wash windows twice a year. I have assigned all dusting to the kids, but I love cleaning my dining table.
We eat and homeschool at our table. The mess builds to epic proportions over the course of a day with spilled syrup, glue, crumbs, pencil shavings, and sometimes a few unidentifiable objects. Cleaning the table makes a tremendous difference in the appearance of our dining room. I love seeing the sunlight glint off the still damp tabletop. I feel accomplished completing this task even if the rest of the day goes sideways.
I have sat at the same table for over 25 years. The soft pine surface holds etchings of math homework from my youth. I set the first dishes I cooked on its surface. I ate tender pork loin seated here the day my husband proposed. I managed the gymnastics of nursing infants while simultaneously feeding myself here. I shared years of meals with my parents and siblings around this table, and now I feed my husband and children here. This table holds memories in the dents, scratches, and stains accumulated over years of use. The table invites me to relive my old memories and make new ones with the people I love.
We live in a strange time. We boast hundreds of friends and followers online, but according to the book #Struggles by Craig Groeschel, 25% of Americans say they have no close friendships. In an era of hyper-connectivity, we lack depth that comes with face-to-face interactions. We need fellowship and connection more than ever. The table remains one of the best places to foster companionship and genuine intimacy.
So how do we bring back hospitality and create space for deep relationships? We start with an invitation to pull up a chair to our table
Invite the people
We take the first step to fellowship when we invite others to share that table with us. We find many reasons not to invite people into our homes and lives. We haven’t cleaned, or our plates are chipped. Our homes are too small or too old. Life is so busy. Stop making excuses, start making time and making invitations. If your family isn’t eating regularly at the table, this is a great place to start. Once you have family dinners under your belt, invite neighbors, friends, or that new couple at church. Chances are they are looking for meaningful connection just as much as you.
Keeping gatherings simple takes the stress off of you and makes others feel relaxed in your home. We have enjoyed many nights with friends gathered at our table for take-out pizza on paper plates, low-key taco bars, and simple potlucks. Don’t stress about making a complicated dish or getting out the best china.
Invite the senses
Just because you are keeping meals and setting simple doesn’t mean it can’t also be beautiful. Play quiet, relaxing music in the background. Light a candle at the table and turn the lights down. Engage all of the senses for a memorable gathering.
A few guidelines will create the right environment for connection. Ban all electronics from the table. Hold hands to bless the food and those sharing it. We also like playing the game “Hi/Low” at our table, asking each guest to share the high points and low points of their day or week.
We don’t need to be 3 star Michelin chefs or Martha Stewart to create an atmosphere of belonging in our homes. We need only a free night, a willing heart, and a place to sit. Sharing your table is holy work. Whether your table seats 12 in ornate chairs or you entertain on cushions around a coffee table, you are creating a space for much-needed soul connection with each invitation you make.
About the Author: Lindsay Hufford is a writer, marathoner, home educator and mediocre knitter. Her favorite things include books, kitchen dancing, tattoos, and nachos. She spends days with her handsome hubby, three adorable kids, 15 hens, wandering barn cat, and rescue dog. Lindsay shares ways to live simply and love extravagantly at www.searchforthesimple.com.