The journey to my community table began almost thirty years ago when my path intersected with my husband’s at a small Christian college in San Diego, CA. Ryan and I were married in 1995, a year after we graduated from Point Loma Nazarene University, and we’ve traveled together through more than two decades of homemaking and raising our three sons, a few miles away from our college dorm.
I am educated as a social worker, and find rich meaning in my profession of supporting grieving families as the Bereavement Coordinator for a local hospice company. But I discovered my life work in 2010 when Ryan and I invited some young adults – mostly recent graduates from our Alma mater – to share dinner once a week with our family. For nine years, twenty something women have joined us for dinner on Monday evenings, and young men share a family meal with us on Thursdays.
We don’t invite people to our home to be entertained or impressed. We gather people around our table to be loved and valued. We share authentically and give each other permission to be imperfect. We open our front door wide and invite people into our home to be a part of our family, sharing in the beauty as well as the messiness of life. And over time the most remarkable family tree has blossomed through the middle of our dining room table, as the roots dig deep into the foundation of our home.
A few years ago we outgrew our dining room table. Even though we enjoyed the familial awkwardness of bumping elbows as we passed food around the table, growth wasn’t sustainable. So our Thursday Night Guys crafted and built a table that seats 20 for our backyard patio. When the table was completed everyone who helped make it gathered for an inaugural meal, and signed their name on top with a sharpie marker. That evening a tradition was established that invites everyone to add their name to our table in permanent ink the first time they share a meal with us. And when those who have become a part our community move on to their next chapter, I give them a set of used silverware from my kitchen drawer, wrapped in a cloth napkin, and a note that says “Because you’ll always have a place at our table.”
This website not about ministry or discipleship or entertaining or inviting a gaggle of twenty-somethings over for dinner. It’s about practicing hospitality – the warm, generous gathering of people in our homes. In a world where so many of our neighbors are connecting with a wider network of people less deeply, the gift of inviting people to our dinner table where they can be truly known is desperately needed.
This website is a collection of stories from my table, the recipes I serve my community, and links to helpful resources on hospitality and sharing meals – to offer inspiration, encouragement and support as you create a sacred space of belonging for the people who gather in your home. The community seated around your table will likely look very different from mine. But regardless of the size of your table, or the demographics of your community, or whether you break homemade bread or a store bought baguette – together we are engaging in the significant work of inviting others to our table to discover a place of belonging in the common ground of shared meals. It’s an invitation for all of us to taste the great feasting of God’s kingdom on earth as it is heaven.