I'm digging in somebody else's jewelry box today. I think you'll enjoy the poignant pearls of truth that accessorize this post. If you've found the "right word at the right time" this week, feel free to open up your box of jewels and share it here. I'd love to pick it up, polish it off and enjoy its beauty, too!
After last week's true confessions about mealtimes at our house, I found it extremely comforting to read the chapter titled Double, Double Toil and Trouble: the table in my "new-favorite-book" Somewhere More Holy by Tony Woodlief. Tony's engaging story telling and humble wit makes this beautiful account of faith and family a true treasure. Woodlief invites us to view our homes as "more than just rooms and a roof," but a sacred place, a place where God "finds us, heals us, and lives with us."
While the book is filled with many poignant pictures of our extraordinary God embracing our most ordinary moments of home life, Woodlief's description of his far-from-holy dinner time serves as much-needed salve on my mealtime wounds (especially the ones inflicted by flying food and plummeting utensils!) Perhaps his confessions will encourage you to endure one more round of dinnertime as well and to look for the One who dines with us even though we don't deserve His presence!
"Boys eat. All animals eat, of course, but boy animals are the only creatures to transform eating into a spectator sport. Consider a typical night at our dinner table: There is Caleb, who has wolfed down more mashed potatoes than his father. He is rubbing his pooched-out belly like an expectant mother and making He-man noises. Next to him is Eli, who has quietly but methodically initiated some kind of murky food-science experiment in his water glass. Across from them, Isaac has just fallen out of his chair, a green bean in one hand and a chicken leg in the other. On his way down, he's managed to whack his mother with the chicken leg.
And then there's the newest addition to our family, Isaiah John, sitting in his high chair. He has secretly grabbed a biscuit from the table and crammed the entire thing into his mouth while no one was looking. His cheeks are full to bursting. His brothers notice his chipmunk face and begin to giggle. He tries to smile, but his mouth can't stretch because of the biscuit. He claps his hands and hoots back at them, blowing pieces of biscuit on the table. They laugh harder, making him bob and hoot more enthusiastically. A shower of crumbs bounces like soggy hail across the table. I try to root out some of the doughy mound, but his giggle turns to a squawk of indignation. I settle for persuading him to take a swig from his sippy cup. I'm hoping it will soften the biscuit enough for him to actually swallow some if it before his gag reflex kicks in and we get chain-reaction upchucking.
In these moments my poor wife looks at me as if for an explanation, like I am a spokesman for the entire male species. She is waiting for an excuse. She hasn't yet learned that we men rarely have an excuse. I can't help but think that perhaps this is an additional curse laid upon women, that they have to sit at the dinner table with us. Eve did eat that forbidden piece of fruit after all. It's a poetic kind of punishment, if you think about it."
Later in the chapter, this father of four boys writes, "Sometimes the boys and I will make a 'fancy' dinner for her. We'll whip up an elaborate and messy meal, set our table with good china, light candles, and get dressed up. Then one or more of the boys will lead her into the dining room, staring up at her with expectant smiles, eager to see her delight..."
"I'd like to tell you what follows in our home is graceful dining that would make Miss Manners teary-eyed with approval, but you've already had a glimpse of the circus that frequently sets up tent at our dinner table. I suppose over time we'll get more ordered and mannerly, but here's the point; our lives-and yours- are a continued mingling of the disastrous and the sacred. Who we are is worlds apart from who God is, and that chasm might have remained forever if not for the fact that he came to us as we are, where we are. We spiritualize and intellectualize this God, who has from the very beginning, come to his people, pursued us, and lived among us, because doing so makes him safely distant, more easily understood. But he comes to us. He comes so that we might become- some more slowly than others and perhaps me slowest of all- like him."