The Coffee Table

bread&wine_cover_artIt’s Bread and Wine week here on the blog.  I was thrilled to read a pre-release of Shauna Niequist’s book last month, and while I felt like it could have prompted about 50 posts, I am focusing on the story of our life right now.  The book is a love letter to life around the table, to the community that is created over good food and good conversation.  If I wrote a love letter to life around the table, it would not be our dining table, though…

We closed on the house we sold today.  It’s sitting empty and all our stuff is in storage for I don’t know how long.  Probably forever, given the turn in the housing market around here.

I will not miss that house. In fact, I’m rather glad to be leaving it.  We lived in that house for almost 4 years, and more bad than good happened during that time.  It’s the house we lived in when we realized the ministry we thought we’d be doing was never going to happen, when our girls died, and when our jobs fell apart.

But I am grateful for that house.  Because three especially good things came from it:  our labrador Flop, our son Riley, and Thursday nights.

Technically, Thursday nights preceded the house, but they did their best work in our lives once we lived there.

We began hosting people at our apartment for the Thursday night line up on NBC almost 5 years ago.  We all worked together and at that time The Office felt a bit true to life.

At first, we watched TV and went home.  Then we started chatting during the commercials, making jokes and laughing longer than it actually took to fast forward.  Then the seasons ended, and we kept meeting, dubbing it Family Game Night, usually playing Settlers of Catan or Jenga.

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The make up of the group shifted over time, but eventually, we didn’t need a reason to gather. Blythe and Allie just came.  It was Thursday.  That was enough.

At the center of Thursday night was the coffee table.

Oh, the coffee table.  It holds meals. It holds tired feet.  It props up Flop’s chin as he lays between it and the couch.

It’s a total mess, covered in water spots–rings from drinks and drops from Flop’s jowls.

It’s where we usually eat our meals, somehow managing to hold plates and glasses for everyone.

It is the most sacred space in my house.

Around that table, Allie, Blythe, Curtis and I have eaten a thousand meals and talked about a thousand things–day to day life, our hoped-for careers, recovering from church hurt, family dynamics.  We sat there when I lost my girls. We sat there to hear about Allie falling in love, and Blythe moving back into ministry after a season away.

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A few weeks ago we sat around it trying to figure out what happens with the house sold and our family an hour apart.

The thing is, it’s not my family in one town and those women in another.  It’s our one family split across two cities.  That is what time around the coffee table created, Thursday night after Thursday night, in that house I won’t miss.

For a while there were only two keys to that house.  My husband had one; Blythe had the other.  Then Blythe made copies for Allie and me, in zebra print. Naturally.

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So, house on Via Colinas, thank you.  For holding us safely, sheltering us in a turbulent season, and knitting together a family around the coffee table.

And sorry, new owners, but we’re not leaving the zebra keys on the counter for you.

One thought on “The Coffee Table

  1. Thursday nights has been the purest form of church to me. We are most definitely family. I’ve cried 3 times this past week mourning the shift of our 5 year tradition. I never thought a coffee table would become a sacred place to me, but it has. Just know, wherever you guys end up, Blythe and I will come and gather around that table again. We will cry again. We will laugh again. And we will fight over whose turn it is to hold Riley. Thank you for writing this and and well for everything…. Love you.

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