By Jen Akin
Many of my favorite memories are centered around my parent’s big, clunky, wooden dining room table. We lived on a very meager budget, but Mom could make the simplest foods seem like we were dining at a five star restaurant. Along with this, the table was always set with a tablecloth, dishes, and flatware in the exact right spots. Two lighted pillar candles were set in the middle to serve as ambiance. A beautiful ritual, signifying something special.
When I was young, this table was a great place to hide under, and after dinner, my brother and I would run around it shrieking while my dad would try to “catch” us as we passed by. And as I entered my teen years, it became a place where my dad would catch my worries and frustrations, imparting gentle and thoughtful wisdom in return.
This is the table where multiple birthdays were celebrated, where my parents got to know my husband, where we argued and cried and laughed and dove deep into significant conversations. And it is at this table that Dad prayed thanksgiving over what had been and what was to come, right before my parents moved from their home. While gone now, it will always be a holy and sacred place for me. Much of who I have become has been shaped by the experiences and conversations around that table.
In Mark 14 we get a glimpse of this practice as Jesus and his disciples celebrate their last Passover together. While the news of Christ’s fate is heavy and horrifying, he teaches them in this moment how to remember. Bread, wine, body, blood, and a promise that he will return, and in the meantime, they will remember. This “first communion” with his disciples was the beginning of a new practice, a holy ritual, a sacred space created around their table.
I believe, especially in the season of Lent, we are called to create sacred space in our lives. It might not be a dining room table, but a space that is set apart for reflection and communion. A spot where the interruptions of the temporal are not allowed to invade our time to respond to the eternal. Where we are present with hearts and minds open to the movement of the Holy Spirit in and among us, allowing ourselves to be shaped even further into the image of our Creator. Holy, set-apart, sacred space.
In my own little family we are not as good at getting around the dining room table as my family was when I was little. We try, but often the temporal invades with perhaps noble, but not sacred, demands of homework, soccer, and work events. But when we do, we light the candles, tell the stories, pray together, and remember.