October 1, 2008

grace at my table

sometime in september, i read a post about grace and old tables at Seedlings in Stone. L. L. Barkat asked for stories of other old tables. i immediately thought of the table in my kitchen.

although she was asking for stories about "old" tables, this story is about a newer table made out of old wood, and how that table brings grace into my life every day. and for those of you who have followed my old blog, Life in the Midst of Writing, this is a re-post.

"Please Sign my Table"

"A strange request," you may say. I would have to agree. A few years ago, I would have never asked.

Let me go back in time to explain. When Joe and I first got married (1987) we went to the midwest for his medical school graduation, and to visit family. One of his uncles worked for a pipe welding business. As part of the company's contract with the government, the pipes they had to weld were shipped to the company in blocks of oak or walnut. Most of the wood was burned to keep the workers warm. Fortunately, Joe's uncle saved some of the longer pieces for us and we hauled them back home.

We gave the wood to the shop class at the highschool where my father worked at the time. The shop class planed the wood and made a lovely table for us, complete with knots and worm holes (such character it added). I sanded the pieces and finished them.

Fast forward a few years to 1996. My eldest child (2 at the time) used the table for coloring. But the markers didn't always stay on the paper or the plastic mat I put under the paper. Over the years, both sons added more colorful touches and there was no way to get the marker off of the table. I used to be embarrassed whenever company came to eat at my table.

One day, I realized the marks presented a unique opportunity. Rather than trying to hide the marks, I wanted to celebrate them, and the people who came to my home. In 2005, I mentioned to Donetta that I was thinking about asking guests to sign my table. She thought it was a great idea and had the privilege to be the first to sign.

Some people just sign their names. Others leave lengthy comments. Each one is unique and treasured.

The wonderful thing is that every time I sit at my table and look at the signatures (when I can see them), I think of each guest and I can remember the moment or occasion when each person signed. It also gives me a chance to pray for those people.

(What my table usually looks like - signs of creativity are everywhere!)

(No, we don't eat here very often.)
if i pay attention, i can see grace every time i sit at the table.
**God doesn't look at my mistakes. he uses each one to make me beautiful, more like Jesus.
**my life is messy just like the table - messy and beautifully chaotic.
**people who see my table smile. i hope they will feel free to be themselves in my home.
**we don't have to follow the rules all the time and it's ok to be different. i don't know anyone else who does this. i have one friend who won't sign it because he thinks it's not right to write on a piece of furniture.
**sometimes it's just better to go with the flow than to fight it. in fact, one of the signatures says: "This is a great table because it accepts the rigors of childhood without trying to fight them."
(after i posted this, i had several blogging friends "sign" my table in the comment section, and i transferred their comments to the table. if you would like to sign my table, please feel free. if the comment option is not available, click on the post title to find it.)

1 comment:

Nedra Smith said...

Hi, Michelle. I still think the idea of the table is wonderful. That was so creative and thoughtful of you to have folks sign it earlier this year. It provided a real sense of connection. I pray all is going well for you.