The Dining Room Table
It has been quite a couple of months at our household. My oldest daughter graduated from college in December and got married in January! Both events evoked so many memories and so much emotion some of which center around an ordinary dining room table.
When my wife was a college student she moved into a house with a few friends and her mother bought her a dining room table. Just an ordinary table from some garage sale. It was around that table that she shared meals with her friends. With those college friends she played games around that table and on that table she studied her way through college. Upon graduation that table went with her. More meals and times together with friends followed. She moved from Texas to Pennsylvania where she met me. We married and that table became our first dining room table in our first home in southeastern Pennsylvania. We shared our first meals together as husband and wife around that ordinary table. We enjoyed meals with old and new friends. We welcomed our first child to that table. It was to that table that we pulled up her highchair. We shared family meals around that table. We played games on it and welcomed more friends and family to gather around it. The table legs bear the claw scratchings of our first pet, a cat named Annie. We moved to Texas and the table came with us. Another daughter came along and she called it her first table and later we welcomed two sons to our family and to our table. The six of us often sat around its surface. Their friends would gather around it eating and playing. Our extended families assembled around that table as holiday meals were served from it.
My daughter who just got married has moved to Indiana where her husband is from. Last month, my other daughter and I moved a van load of wedding gifts, clothes, and furniture to her new apartment - her first home as a married woman. In that loaded down van was that ordinary dining room table.
We set it up in her dining room and gathered the now old and worn-out chairs around it. The well-traveled table had found a new home where new memories would be made. As it sat there in that small dining room all I could do was stare at it! The sight of it filled me with an indescribable joy. I began to think about how much that table has meant to me. I could picture all those people who had joined me at that table. I could begin to see all of the events that took place around that table. Meals, games of Monopoly and Risk, card games, conversations, prayers. And then a thought struck me. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to call back all those people who have gathered around that table and invite them back? For all of us, hundreds I suppose, to be gathered around that ordinary table once again. How wonderful that would be!
Knowing that that could never happen it then dawned on me that something like that however will happen. One of the great hopes of Christianity is the anticipation of being reunited with all those people with whom we have shared our lives. To all be gathered together in one place in an assembly of friendship, fellowship, and love. Certainly that will be one of the great joys of heaven.
In my mind I imagine a place. A place of reunion where all the joys of this life are accumulated into one unending celebration. And in that place a table. Big enough for everyone to gather around yet somehow small enough to enjoy everyone's presence. And the very thought of that table fills me with an indescribable joy. It reminds me of the refrain of an old hymn, "When we all get to heaven what a day of rejoicing it will be."