We have a kitchen table with a built-in leaf that allows the table to expand and contract. As a family of four we really only need the table to be on its smallest size. But because we regularly have folks over for meals, we keep it at its largest size to accommodate as many people as possible.
We had to do some work on the kitchen floor this week, which required us to move the table. To make things easy, we reduced the table to its smallest size. When the kitchen repair work was complete we moved everything back to its original place. I was about to elongate the kitchen table when I realized that we won’t be having anyone over. I stood there staring at the table thinking of all the friends and family who have sat around it. The meals we’ve served and the stories that have been told. The messes that have been made and the laughter that has filled the kitchen and spilled out into the entire house.
As I looked at the little round table, it seemed so strange. So small. Sure, there’s a lot more space now to maneuver in the kitchen, but I would trade the inconvenience in a heartbeat to have friends back around the table. To shake hands, hug, share life shoulder to shoulder.
The increased space in the kitchen feels symbolic of the increased space that we are facing as a country. Social distance, physical distance, and separation creep into our ordinary conversations. Wide spaces that can make our homes and routines and lives feel lacking and empty.
In the days ahead, whenever I sit down at the kitchen table to eat I’m going to be intentional about praying for one of the families that has sat around the table with us. When you notice the spaces where things and people are missing because of the current pandemic, I invite you this week to take time to pray. Pray for the people who come to mind. Friends who you regularly see at your gym or yoga class, your colleagues from work, church family…
The time is coming when we will one day sit around tables together. In the meantime may we fill the empty seats and spaces with prayers for those we love. May we continue to live with hope and gratitude.