The Kitchen Table

Having just preached this past Easter, I had a chance to reflect on The Last Supper. Jesus eats with his disciples. All of his disciples. Even Judas. Even the one who would betray him.

Jesus made a habit of eating with all sorts: tax collectors, sinners, the sick, the wealthy, the poor, Pharisees, disciples, and countless others. All are welcome at Jesus’ table.

Eating together is vital. Sharing food is a unifying experience. Our kitchen tables can become places of profound acceptance. I have found that in mental health recovery, I can jump at the opportunity to accept others, but I often grapple with accepting myself.

"Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table."

I struggled with black and white thinking. When I reflect on my recovery, I judge myself as either a massive success or a shameful failure. There is often very little middle ground. As I continue to connect with other folks in mental health recovery, I have found that I am not alone in this thinking. Accepting my inconsistencies is crucial when living well with a mental health condition.

As I studied The Last Supper this year, I developed a series of reflections on the kitchen table. Our kitchen tables have many purposes. A variety of experiences and emotions are felt at the kitchen table. As my life changes and my mood fluctuates, I am still connected to some great spiritual force, and I still have a seat at the table. I might not always realize it, but I am eternally connected to God. As you read the following “Reflections on a Kitchen Table,” consider how dynamic our life experiences are. As we change and life gets chaotic, it’s an opportunity to pull up a chair and reconnect.

Reflections on The Kitchen Table

The kitchen table is a place where children rush to eat cereal before the school bus. It is also the place where my mom told me to slow down while eating dinner and not to talk with a mouth full of food.

The kitchen table was a place where I hid mashed potatoes under the table because I didn’t want to eat them. It was also the place where hot fudge sundaes were eaten in seconds flat.

The kitchen table was the place where my parents would do their taxes, and they would ask us to give them some quiet time. It was also a place where my parents would call us over to decorate Christmas cookies, to make a mess and make a lot of noise.

The kitchen table was the place where one night the phone rang during dinner, and we found out that my great uncle had died. It was also the place where my parents announced our trip to Hawaii to cheers of excitement.

The kitchen table was the place to have a nice quiet breakfast before church. It was also the best place to congregate for a house party. That was if I ever had a house party.

The kitchen table was the place where my parents asked us to have civilized, polite, and adult conversation. That same kitchen table was also turned into “The Kid’s Table” on big family gatherings when our dining room table was full of adults. Trust me, I was never civilized at “The Kid’s Table.”

The kitchen table was the place that I spilled milk on numerous occasions. It was also a place where I served my first omelet at age 9, and my lifelong interest in cooking began.

The kitchen table was a place where we were expected to mind our manners, keep our napkins in our laps, and keep our elbows off the table. It was also a place that our dog would sniff underneath the table during dinner for some peculiar reason. Later on, our vet put our dog on a diet because somehow our dog was mysteriously eating too much human food.

Our Kitchen Tables Are a Big Deal!

You might think, “Big deal… we’re just having a cup of coffee together at the kitchen table.” Or, “Big deal… we reheated some leftovers and were sitting down together at the kitchen table.” Or, “Big deal… it’s just an after-school snack of apple slices and cheese together at the kitchen table…” Yes! It is a big deal.

Communing with another is communion with God. Acceptance of another is a step toward acceptance of self. When we gather together at the metaphorical kitchen table, for any reason, there are great spiritual forces at play, regardless of the scope and size of the gathering.

When we struggle to accept who we are, remember the dynamism of the kitchen table. When we think we aren’t worthy, aren’t sane enough, aren’t sober enough, or aren’t virtuous enough to pull up a seat to the metaphorical kitchen table, resist the urge to walk away. God is always making sure that the table is set and a seat is available for you and for all. Pull up a chair to the kitchen table.

Make sure to comment below and join the conversation!

Seth Perry

Seth Perry

ELCA Pastor -Devotional Blogger- Mental Health Recovery Educator-Living Well with Bipolar Type 1


18 Responses

  1. Beautiful!
    “No matter where I serve my guests
    They seem to like the kitchen best”
    The kitchen table…from where you may be able to see the dirty dishes, the messy calendar, the fridge cluttered with photos, children’s art, souvenir magnets…

  2. That’s a very inspiring post! Now I want to do exactly the same and have a big kitchen table, where I am cooking again and having people over. I had that in the past when my kids were little and it was a great time. Now it could be with friends centered around recovery and spiritual growth. Thank you Seth

    1. Well said Seth. The kitchen table has always been a comforting magnet for family and friends…including you. Hope you had a Happy Easter. Hugs.
      Kathy Hachey

  3. Very profound and a good job at looking at the little things (or big things) in life that really matter. Sending lots of love and hugs!

    Steve Bartz

  4. The kitchen table is also a place where we sometimes have family meetings to discuss an important topic, or to plan the week ahead. Yes, the kitchen table is a place of diplomacy and communion. Praise God, the Almighty Prince of Peace!

    1. Absolutely Don. I’m lucky enough to pull up a chair to the kitchen table every day for lunch. This is where my wife and I plan vacations and talk about the future.

  5. I think you are a massive success Seth!! Very proud to have you as my pastor. Your help is appreciated more than you know.

  6. Great descriptions of the kitchen table. Since I am now alone our kitchen table is not used on a daily basis any longer. Nowadays when I sit at the kitchen table I am surrounded by family and dear friends or my daughters and their sweet friends that often come from different lands. I look at the kitchen table as a place of gratitude. Almost always we are preparing the meal together, jammed with bodies all moving in different directions. When we take our seats at the kitchen table our loud rambling voices are silenced in prayer. Always thankful for the abundance of good that our God brings us. The awareness of the hundreds of thousands of people in the world that suffer horribly each and everyday. In our chaotic lives the kitchen table brings that quiet reflection and connection if just for a few minutes. Our kitchen tables can be a picnic table in a park. A large rock in the mountains or a towel spread out on the sand of a beach. It travels with us as a place of gratitude.

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A reflection on self acceptance: Your kitchen table serves many purposes. Who's invited? Have you left room for yourself?