Two Saturdays ago I was sitting in a class at my home church, First Baptist of Glenarden. As a side note, the instructor referenced something that sparked my interest. She mentioned the “Table Principle”. I never knew there was such a thing! But as she was explaining it to us, I knew exactly what she meant and clearly understood the spiritual significance of the table. See, every now and then my sisters and I will talk about all of the great things that happened at our kitchen table growing up, inadvertently referencing this principle.
Reflecting on the time I spent in my parent’s home (I didn’t move out on my own until I was 26!), I can recall many powerful and also very ordinary experiences at our kitchen table. This was the location where we enjoyed nightly family dinners. The table is where my parents and a few of their close friends formulated the idea for their now 24-year old company. When family or friends visited our home, inevitably we ended up grouped around the table eating, laughing, sometimes playing games, other times having thought-provoking conversations. Whether the ordinary or extra-ordinary, the kitchen table is probably the most vivid recollection and symbol of my formative years.
Again, I don’t know much about the “Table Principle” other than what was shared with me in the matter of 60 seconds in my class the other day. My interest is sparked and I’m launching my own personal research project (stay tuned- in the coming weeks I’ll share some of the great things I’ve found out). But, I do believe in the essence of what I believe the principle is. First, by taking time to sit down and enjoy a meal as a family regularly communicates to each other the importance of the bond and places a high value on quality time spent together. I can imagine that some days it is easier (and maybe even necessary due to conflicting schedules) to do meals on the go and/or separately. But making time to sit and enjoy the moments you have together can do wonders for your family life, strengthening relationships, and is likely to be a healthier meal and digestive period.
So, I think that first point is pretty basic. Nothing new there, right? Well, I suggest that the kitchen table can also facilitate life-changing experiences. As I mentioned, my parents transformed a dream into reality at our kitchen table. I was a bit too young at the time to internalize what was going on (as a matter of fact, I think I was somewhere playing with my sisters) but I’ve heard this story recounted enough to know now that it was not a chance encounter.
One of the principles I’ve come to embrace is homemaking- ensuring your home is hospitable and a place of ministry. My mother was definitely a homemaker and my father supported her in maintaining an environment that nurtured our family’s growth and invited the presence of God daily. Because this was a part of their lifestyle, it was easy for God to work in our lives- the atmosphere was conducive to allowing His spirit to dwell within. Thus, when others came into our home, they were ushered into His presence.
My parents were/are innovators (my mother is deceased) and addicted to continuous growth and improvement. They were/are also very inclusive and found ways to partner with people on almost everything they sought to do. So, one night at our kitchen table, my dad’s dream, supported by mother’s commitment and practicality, connected with the strengths, talents and desires of the others at the table. What could’ve easily been dismissed as a far-fetched, never-going-to-happen dream was welcomed as a reality-yet-to-come. As a result, each of their and their family member’s lives were changed. Sure, it wasn’t just the kitchen table. But, because there existed a place that was regularly used as a meeting place of nourishment, fellowship and idea generation, what came next was only natural, with a bit of destiny mixed in.
This is only one of the many examples I reflect upon as I think about the “table principle”. I know it is a powerful tool, that when allowed to be utilized by God, can grow families and friendships and turn regular encounters into life-changing experiences.
Do you have any stories of how spending quality time at the kitchen table has enriched your life or that of your family or friends? If you’re not currently utilizing your kitchen table for much more than a resting spot for mail, homework, etc. then I challenge you to clear it off tonight and have dinner as a family. My own personal challenge is to take more opportunities to visit with friends and family and experience the power of enjoying time together around the kitchen table.