You’ve Been Invited to the Table

September 6, 2013 | 23 comments

So, I’ve been having this dream.

And in the dream, there’s a long table stretching out under an open sky. The heavens are coated with stars, so many that we don’t need to light the ivory tapers that I twisted into those crystal holders. The table is covered in a white cloth that blows in the summer breeze, and all the people are laughing and carrying on. I carry pottery heaped high and steaming to that long rectangle in the grass. My hands smell like garlic and the air smells like lilacs.

I’m not wearing shoes, because I want to feel the grass between my toes when I walk back and forth to the kitchen.

The little boys are burping. Some of the women are dressed in sequined gowns, like they had gotten all gussied for some ball to be held in some marbled room somewhere. Sitting beside them? New friends who came wearing their dirty, threadbare T-shirts with screenprinted sayings like, “Go Wildcats” or “Life is Good.” There’s a Mercedes parked next to a rusty Pinto. I nearly trip over a pair of crutches by the head of the table.

Everyone got invited, and almost everyone came. In the dream, we had taped a sign to a barrel and rolled it out to the middle of Main Street. “Come One and All!”  The poor, the lame, the drunk, the rich, the holy. The naughty kid, the valedictorian, the blind guy, the beggar, and the CEO.

A sinner would be serving the dinner. And so I kept bringing out potatoes, and green beans, and filet mignon, and there was more than enough for everyone. And everyone was more than enough.

 

In the dream, everyone is barefoot, and all the bare feet are under one long table, and that’s the part that makes me cry every time.

So on Sunday, the pastor read from Luke’s Gospel. He quoted Jesus: “When you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind.”

Sitting in the pew, I thought about my dream.

And then I remembered it —  how my already dream came true, only I wasn’t the server at all. I was the guest.

It was January in Haiti. I wasn’t sitting under a star-studded sky, but under a metal roof of a tiny hut that leaked when it rained. I sat with my family. And there was another woman who made the meal. She rose before dawn to cook over an outdoor fire, holding her skirt in her fist while she stirred.

This was a modern-day Babette’s feast. It cost our hosts everything they had, and cost us nothing: a portrait of grace and the essence of the faith I profess.  

I remember now, how, I didn’t think I should be sitting there. Like it was too much. I remember, too, how we had the most meaningful conversations around that plastic table with plastic chairs and a secondhand tablecloth. But the thing was, most of us couldn’t speak the same language.

I still can’t get over the grace of it all — the extravagance of the feast. I know now that God had pushed back the curtain a little bit, to give us a glimpse of heaven.

And we were all barefoot.

Last photo: The dinner prepared for us by some friends in Haiti.

by | September 6, 2013 | 23 comments

23 Comments

  1. Simply Beth

    Beautiful as always, Jennifer. This made me think of the time I recently spent in Guatemala. On one Saturday about 50-60 women gathered together from two different countries for a Women’s Retreat. It was truly an amazing experience. God’s presence was felt. Many of us were barefoot at one point as we served each of these beautiful Guatemalan women by washing their feet and painting their toes.
    Thank you for sharing with us.
    Blessings.

    Reply
  2. Karrilee Aggett

    Simply beautiful. Oh how He honors us and serves and loves, and what joy when we get to be a vessel He pours through in all of those ways! …And oh how you do these things (and what I wouldn’t give for a meal with bare feet swinging, starlit skies, and laughter lingering late!

    Reply
  3. Shelly Miller

    I have that same dream in my mind almost every day, of hosting an outdoor dinner like that. My daughter and I were talking about how we would decorate. She wanted to show a movie on the side of the house. Love this, so much.

    Reply
  4. hisfirefly

    tears falling
    yes, this
    humble, true, everything

    Reply
  5. ephale

    Oh, friend…you have me weeping into my coffee cup. I can just see that table, your word-picture is so vivid. And how I long to be there, my feet brushing the soft grass, laughing with you and every one of those precious souls who answered the banquet call. And at the head of the table! I can almost see Him….thanks for this beautiful image! (And, I see a bit of heaven right there at your friends’ table, in the smiles on everyone’s faces.)

    Reply
  6. Sharon O

    wow beautiful…

    Reply
  7. Shereen Lynn

    Oh, Babette’s Feast! I’d forgotten that wonderful story. Thanks for sharing your naked soul and naked toes with us today. I needed something lovely.

    Reply
  8. kazzeo

    Holy ground.
    We are standing on Holy ground ……

    Reply
  9. debyholtschlag

    “I’m not wearing shoes, because I want to feel the grass between my toes”, as I desire to feel His grace wash over the bareness of my soul.

    Reply
  10. birdie

    I love the idea of everyone was barefoot; the rich and poor, the distinguished, the lame; everyone!

    Reply
  11. Lisa @ FSL

    it amazes me how much communion in community is being spoken this week. i think we all long for the table and bare feet. and isn’t it sweet grace when we experience it and long for more.

    Reply
  12. Eileen

    Love this. Makes me smile to picture us running around heaven barefoot.

    Reply
  13. Sherri

    This is beautiful.

    I’ve experienced something similar in a dream. I heard God clearly say to me, “Don’t settle for crumbs when a feast has been prepared for you.” This post is a great visual for his message to me…to all of us.

    Reply
  14. Lorrie

    I think about this often. It is an image from many magazines and current trends in weddings and outdoor parties. I thought about it a lot during my daughter’s wedding. And when I think of old friends and sitting at their dining tables over the years. I sat at a lot of different families dining tables over the years because our family ate later and I was allowed to stay over later. Even in the tv series, Parenthood, they have a regular time of family fellowship where others are invited. i am not just thinking about the setting but the fellowship, and the provision, and the our heavenly family. Everyone is invited.

    Reply
  15. Dea

    No shoes in heaven? There is a day coming… thanks for the reminder Jennifer.

    On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples
    a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine,
    of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.
    And he will swallow up on this mountain
    the covering that is cast over all peoples,
    the veil that is spread over all nations.
    He will swallow up death forever;
    and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces,
    and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth,
    for the Lord has spoken. (Is. 25:6-8)

    Reply
  16. Kim @ Kim's County Line

    Another beautiful message of photos and words, Jennifer. Thanks for the pictures you paint in my heart and mind.

    Reply
  17. Simply Darlene

    “the little boys are burping” <– i like that part too.

    blessings.

    Reply
  18. Barbie

    So beautiful! I long to run barefoot with brothers and sisters of all walks of life through the streets of heaven. Oh what a day that will be!

    Reply
  19. Vanderbilt Wife

    I was in Brazil. It was too cold to go barefeet, especially considering the cement floors. The chef was from Morocco and it was one of the most exquisite meals I’ve ever had, and I’m sure it was a Babette’s Feast as well (one of my favorite movies – perfect reference). Thank you for stirring this dear memory.

    Reply
  20. Nancy Ruegg

    Such a happy, carefree occasion, that dream. Nobody even cared that the little boys burped! Thank you for reminding us that we all have a place at the table in heaven and each of us is enough. I’m also reveling in the memories and wisdom of your commenters: 1) Sherri, who says, “Don’t settle for crumbs.” 2) Lorrie, who reminds us that the glorious table-times with family and friends are a foretaste of heaven. And, 3) Dea, who brought such a relevant scripture to the table–Isaiah 25:6-8.

    Reply
  21. Mindy

    So beautiful…We are different, yet the same. Reminds me of a portion of an old song, :He brought me to His banqueting eating table. His banner over me is love.” Thankful to be eating at that table with you Jennifer.

    Reply
  22. bluecottonmemory

    Holisticly beautiful, Jennifer! The visual words, the photo, the invitation to take off our shoes and get real and find grace at His table! Simply beautiful! I love it when words are inside and outside beautiful like yours today!

    Reply
  23. birdiecutair

    I’m actually using the parable of the great banquet (Luke 14:15-24) for my Bible study this week. God has been pointing me towards the table quite a bit lately!

    Reply

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