Coming Together at Table

family at dinner table

Growing up, our table was always filled with friend and stranger. While we lived far from our own families of origin, we were never at a loss for family because, through the sharing of meals, a beautiful and unique family arose.

At that table, we prayed together, savored dishes from around the world, and learned about the ways in which holidays and holy days were celebrated in each person’s culture. People would often bring token gifts, but it was their presence that we all appreciated most. Each person brought to the table gifts of themselves—personal gifts, spiritual gifts, and cultural riches.

In the Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius speaks of the necessity of reciprocity in relationship. He says, “Love consists of sharing what one has and what one is with those one loves.” While Ignatius is referring to one’s relationship with God, his advice is applicable to all relationships. The people at our table shared precisely in this manner; they shared of what they had and what they were. In so doing, they grew to love each other.

Years later, I knew I had found home when my coworkers in refugee resettlement shared in the same manner around holidays and holy days. From all over the world, with varied tongues, cultures, and religions, we came together as one family at one table. We continue to treasure each other and the unique and irreplaceable gifts that each of us brings to the table.

Coming together at table in such a way is a very powerful action, perhaps because it is a reflection of the heavenly banquet of the Lord:

On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples

a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wines,
of rich food filled with marrow, of well-aged wines strained clear.

And he will destroy on this mountain

the shroud that is cast over all peoples,
the sheet that is spread over all nations;
he will swallow up death forever. (Isaiah 25:6–8)

At his table, the Lord provides for all peoples and destroys everything that separates. On the mountain of the Lord, there are no walls or divisions. All come together.

Of course, this theme is continued through Christ in the New Covenant too. Theologian-philosopher Fr. Henri Nouwen said, “For Jesus, no countries are to be conquered, no ideologies are to be imposed, no people are to be dominated. There are only children, women and men to be loved.” (Twomey and Pomerleau, Remembering Henri)

In the end, we are just loved. One people at one table. United by Love.

About Rebecca Ruiz 28 Articles

Rebecca Ruiz holds a B.A. from the College of the Holy Cross and an M.A. from Tufts University. She has worked as an ethnomusicologist, composer, and writer, in academia, and, for the past 14 years, in domestic refugee resettlement in the Diocese of Arlington, VA. She and her husband have two children and live in the Washington, DC metro area. She strives, as St. Ignatius taught, to see God in all things and do “all things for the greater glory of God.”

Contact: Website

2 Comments on Coming Together at Table

  1. Our family custom of sharing food together at table has developed over time to a great big love fest. Food always has a place when anyone visits, when we want to make things special for one of the family members, etc. God has blessed us always, and I keep in mind that family comes first, after God. And hearing the little ones say grace as only they can, is just another blessing God has given us.

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