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HumankindNESS: Table Grace

By Jennifer Richardson
Long ago when I was in college I moved into a house with a few other girls, and we did not have a kitchen table.

It is a peculiar process to acquire the basics of life when you are in the limbo of college. You don’t quite need anything new or nice, and you are years away from the world of housewarmings and weddings that help populate our homes with the everyday items we need.

Personal taste is something you haven’t earned yet. These are the lean years when ask everyone you know if they have something you could put to use. I cast a wide net throughout my family and friends asking if anyone had a kitchen table and chairs I could borrow.

My brother and his wife, not too many years out of college themselves, very kindly offered me a table and chair set that they had been given but were no longer using. We rescued the set from their garage storage and delivered it to my place.

Soon I was enjoying meals and homework on a small, metal-legged, laminate-topped, lightly faded table with short sides that dropped downward in case you suddenly needed four extra inches of space on either side. As a bonus the table came with four swivel chairs covered with decades-old beige vinyl.

It was kind of funny looking, but it fit right in with my other odds and ends and it certainly did the job I needed it to do. Within weeks I grew to love the table and I was grateful to have it in my pint-size kitchen.

Which is why it came as a sad surprise to me when my brother called me a few months later to tell me that the people who had given him the table had called. They wanted the table and chairs back. They had gentlemen who worked for their farm that needed a table, and they wanted to give it to him

It was a crazy thing to be crushed over. It was a used, odd, hand-me-down table, but I liked it, and it was the foundation of most of what I accomplished in my kitchen.

My brother let me know that the gentleman would be calling me to arrange a time to come and pick up the table. He called, we chatted a bit; we laughed about how we had friends in common, and had even been in the same room, but had never officially talked. We set a time for the pick-up. I told him I was busy with another commitment, but the door would be open—just come on in and take it.

I wiped down the vinyl, gave the top a good scrubbing, removed the potted plant I had been using as a decoration, said a quick goodbye to my first table, and left the house. When I returned home the table was gone. I was thinking about what I could use in its place when I saw an envelope sitting on the counter.

I opened it, and inside was a card from the gentleman that had picked up the table. The card was kind and thankful. I enjoyed reading it, and it helped me feel better about the table going to someone who needed it. He signed it, your friend Robert.

Over a year later I was sitting down to dinner in my brother’s home. There was a knock at the door and my brother opened it. A tall, handsome, blue-eyed man was invited in to share supper with us. It was none other than the Robert who had come to take my table and chairs.

Many of the fine points of the evening have been lost over the years, but I wish I could remember every detail. I could not have known then that I was having my first dinner with my future husband.

As we moved through courtship and marriage, I chuckled to myself many times at how I owned my first table twice; first when I borrowed, and second when I married. We used that very table in our own tiny kitchen as a newly married couple.

My little loss became my first real connection to the love of my life. I am reminded of this blessing at every meal, as I give thanks over a table, in more ways than one.

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