I quietly shut his bedroom door and walked down the hall.
I passed her quiet, dark room, stopping for a moment to listen in and make sure she was asleep. I continued down the hall, through the living room and into the dining room.
All that was left of cleanup from dinner was to wipe down the dining room table.
I grabbed the dishrag, walked over to the table and stopped for a moment, taking in the mess. How many times have I wiped this dining area?
I remember picking this table up so many years ago at a thrift store, throwing a few more screws in it and slapping on a fresh coat of paint; having no idea what would take place there.
I thought of the countless meals consumed at that table.
Breakfasts, lunches and dinners.
Most enjoyed, many choked down.
Some quiet, some loud.
From the time it was just my husband and I seated there until now, joined by our children.
I thought of the frustrations of getting our first child to eat and the breath of relief when she finally did, just to have another bundle of joy come along and give us a whole new set of ‘dinner table challenges.’
I thought of the food I’ve wiped off the floor under the table and the spills down the adjacent wall. I thought of the many meals I spent on my feet rocking and ‘bouncing’ babies while others ate.
I tried to remember a meal where I stayed seated for the entire duration, and realized that there wasn’t one. Oh, how thankful I am to have a family to get up and down for.
I reminisced of the company that has joined us at that table: people with nowhere to go for a holiday, college students looking for a home-cooked meal, family from near and far, friends of old and friends of new.
Holidays, birthdays, celebrations of many.
The longer I stood there, the deeper I saw. There, before me was so much more than a table.
There, before me stood my life:
I saw a desk that my children sat at each day and learned of their world, with pencil marks upon it and even more eraser dust.
Thank you Jesus for erasers.
I saw a work bench with nicks and scratches from the many creations built by our very own hands throughout the years.
I saw a craft table with paint, glue and glitter left behind long after the masterpieces had been completed and hung.
I saw play dough crumbles in the wood grain and could hear the giggles from the fun it brought while I prepared dinner.
Oh! What fun has taken place at that table.
So much laughter, learning and joy.
I took another step closer and leaned in. I wiped away a few crumbs from the bread I had made earlier in the day and a sudden wave of emotion came over me.
There I saw 2 indentations. I looked across the tabletop and there were 2 more. I ran my hand over the very place where my husbands and my elbows have rested for years as we prayed after meals. For our family, our children , our life and the world around us.
By now I was looking through eyes blurred by tears when I noticed a crack in the wood.
A poorly made piece of furniture?
The crack opened a gate and a flood of memories came rushing in.
That crack could be the result of so many things:
One of many heated arguments had at that very table?
A glass jovially slammed down after a night of laughter?
Perhaps it was the time my girl decided that the best place to dance was on the table… in her pink cowboy boots?
Or maybe it was from all the hanging on the edges by my son, trying desperately to see what was ‘way up there;’ his little feet dangling below.
I sat down and laid my head upon that table.
My lids could no longer hold the tears and down they fell, upon the stains that remained from so many other tears that had been shed at that table.
Tears of joy, tears of pain, tears of frustration and worry, and tears of praise to the One that gave us it all.
I thought of dreams dreamt and plans made at that table.
I thought of news that was told and realizations come to as we sat there.
I thought of the truly good and the truly hard times we had been through, always coming back together at that very table.
I slowly got up, grabbed the rag, and put it back on the counter.
For tonight, I will leave the table a mess, for that mess was a beautiful mess.
I dimmed the lights and as I walked out of the room, I turned around for one more look, and there, in our dining room, stood so much more than a table.
There stood our life.