The Gathering Place

Today for some reason I am thinking of the beauty and blessing of the Dinner Table.  Maybe it’s because several days lately I ate a cold salad by myself in my vehicle in between running errands and arriving at work.  Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind eating alone.  In fact, being alone, and even eating alone, is something I enjoy.  But the older I get, the more I value coming together with family, community, friends, at the table.

The Table is a gathering place.  A place to connect, feel accepted, be nourished.

The nourishing of a good table goes beyond delicious food, and extends to the nourishments of soul and spirit along with food.  And it is priceless.

So what can we do to create a good Gathering Place…..a place where family and friends feel loved, accepted, nourished?  There seem to be a variety of factors that contribute to a truly nourishing gathering around the dinner table, a place where hearts are blessed, bodies refreshed, and spirits rested.  A few things I’ve observed as I’ve been blessed to be part of hundreds of excellent, joyous meal times all around the US, Canada, and Mexico:

  • The atmosphere is warm.  There is acceptance + love.  It is a place to relax, to be yourself, to feel “at home”.

  • The food can be simple or lavish, served on paper or china, but it is thoughtful, and served with love.

  • Enriching words, healing laughter, and (sometimes heated:) discussion flows.  It’s not always all peace and calm, at least not at my family’s table. But it is sharing.  It is community.

And now I would love to hear from you!  What special touches do you enjoy adding to the Table?  In your mind, what makes a mealtime special and refreshing?

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  1. Seeing how I work the ON shift my lunch is usually somewhere around 2 or 3 am in the morning. But I usually eat out in my car/truck, listening to Matthew West, the Newsboys, the Nelons, and even your family, to name a few. Yesterday I was listening to your 5 younger siblings album: Soon and Very Soon. It was made about 5 years ago I think, and while I know that I really enjoy the wonderful work that Denver, Taylor, Elizabeth, and Hudson did; I think your littlest sister Rebecca kinda stole the show. Although I really did enjoy the songs, by far my favorite part was the Bible A to Z.

    It was a great blessing to have the Lord feed my spirit and soul, while I fed my physical body. I just bring this up because you and your family have feed others and yourselves, as our LORD Jesus did, by ministering to the needs of others, John 4:31-35. And by doing so, have help many to not only drink the milk of the Scripture, but to be able to eat of the meat, Hebrews 5:13-14.

    Remember Jesus words’ of the good ground which the seed fell on:
    Luke 8:15
    But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.

    Who knows perhaps God wants your family to know the blessing you have been to others, as you have witness the gospel to the lost, and feed the saints; Matthew 5:6; Hebrews 6:10.

  2. Love this, Allison! I love gathering for meals around the table with my family!! There’s just something about being together, sharing about our day with each other.

  3. With such a big (and busy) family I totally get this! We like to decorate our table as if we were having company because we believe that we should make things special for our family. Even if we are not eating “fancy food” it is the time we spend together that we treasure! Thanks for the encouraging posts! They really help.

  4. Oh and a special touch… (we have many, but to give you just one!) Our family has a tradition when we serve dessert (usually just on the weekends or special occasions) to sit around the table and take the first bite all together. We usually all count to three, and then take the bite! The resounding “Mmmmmmm’s” are priceless!

  5. Thank you Alison! I really love the whole Idea of your blog here, it is inspiring and a blessing! I know that many others will be blessed by what you share now, and in the future. 😀
    Also, My family and I spend at least an hour each morning and evening around the table. It has been one of the greatest blessings to our family like you said here. Well put!

  6. Mmm, yes! And super cool that you posted this today, because my mom literally JUST shared a quote with me that goes right along with this. I wish I remembered the exact wording, but it was by a lady who is doing a decluttering challenge who said one of her purposes of doing it is to create a gathering space for people instead of a hiding place for stuff. (Side note: oh how I love meals at that long Bontrager table!! :))

    1. Amen, friend! Love it! “A Gathering place for people instead of a hiding place for stuff.” Spot on.:)

  7. Oh yes! The dinner table is one of the most relaxing places to be! Especially after a long day of everyone being in different places at once (especially as we get older and start getting licenses, going to college, and getting jobs). Being together at the dinner table at the end of the day is just so nice.

  8. Beautiful candles + tablecloths + flower arrangements from in-season flowers are simple + easy special touches that my sister loves adding to our table. It makes those Thanksgiving, Christmas and birthday dinners so much more special.
    Ultimately though, love + contentment are the key ingredients for a memorable mealtime. Food + family is one of the best combinations!

I'd love to hear your thoughts!