Words of Hope: Set the Table

Dad loved the phrase, “Set the Table.” For him, it was a call to action for those in leadership to provide a space for true community and transformation to occur. He got this idea from watching my grandmother. My grandmother was an amazing cook and hostess. She created a picture-perfect table with beautiful China, cutlery, linens, and flowers. She baked sumptuous desserts and southern fried-chicken dinners. Dad loved these meals. They differed so greatly from his family home which was often a meal of survival with everyone jockeying around to get their portion. My grandmother’s abundance of food, the grace and ease around the table, the beauty of the setting impressed my dad. He took this image to the basketball court, classroom, and family time. How do we set a table that provides abundance, grace and ease, and relational joy? 

He believed the work of a true coach, teacher, or parent was to set the table for authentic experience and love. Some of the principles he had were: 

  • Create a climate of beauty: inspiring to the senses. 
  •  Create an organized space: time spent communicates loving attention. 
  •  Provide the ingredients for love and connection 
  • Peace (absence of bitterness, selfish ambition, personal agenda, distractions) 
  • Kindness/gentleness 
  • Listening 
  • Time and space

I am participating in contemplative prayer with my mom. The course we are taking begins with the importance of “setting the table” for prayer time. They recommend a beautiful location, without distractions, quiet, and someplace that is not so cozy as to tempt sleep, or too uncomfortable that you are distracted by your discomfort. They recommend lighting a candle. This setting the table for prayer reminds me to take time for setting the table in other aspects of my life. Before I get into the car with the family, how can I set the table of my heart to be ready to love and serve? Before I walk into a staff meeting, how can I set the table for a time of grace, love and beauty? Before I open my mouth to speak, how have I set the table to welcome God’s love and peace to flow through me? 

“He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.” – Song of Solomon 2:4