I just made this comment to a friend: “The Dinner Table really is an exceptional place, isn’t it?”

Not only does healthy, beautiful goodness from our garden appear on our plates, but also delicious cooking is set before us. Even the meals that the kids prepare are nutritious and feed our bodies.

But my comment to my friend was referring to not only food, but also conversation. Literature that is read to the family, news that is shared, hearts that reveal vulnerability, words that sometimes seem cross, words that sometimes heal, and many times God’s Word that is read to the family, seem to have a flavor of their own. All when shared around the dinner table.

As a little girl, my mind would wander and I’d get distracted during family devotions. I’d want to be anywhere but “there.” I’d get comfortable lying my head on my mom’s lap, suddenly becoming very sleepy. I’d be reminded to “sit up!”

We’ve witnessed the same thing in our home with our children. If we’re sitting around in our family room for a family discussion, eyes begin to droop and bodies began to slump over.

Deep discussions, in our home, seem to be the most fruitful when everyone is eating. Food captures our attention. It keeps us centered and focused. We feel the comfort of food and it relaxes us. Each family member seems to respect each other more. As a whole, our family is more empathetic to one another around the table.

Have you tried to have a meal with someone you were at odds with? Hard to swallow, isn’t it? I think we’re designed that way. We really can’t break bread with others until we’re at ease with them. The table is a place of vulnerability and honesty. And when it’s not, it can literally make us feel ill.

I’ve always known the importance of the dinner table, but now it’s sinking in even more.

T Talk
A Always safe
B Break bread
L Listen
E Empathize

(Photos: Abby’s simple outside setting (top); fresh herbs from our garden (lemon thyme, cilantro, parsley and rosemary) mixed with garlic and oil and spread on bread, and then BBQ’d; books that we believe have made an impact around the Coughlin table)

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