Being Gathered

We lit candles at the dinner table last night--something we haven't been doing with the long sun-lit evenings of June and July. Our meal began the way we have begun every dinner this summer, with joined hands and a moment of silence. When we are without guests, our silence can last for quite awhile--enough time for us all to breathe and let the chattering, excited voices of summer die down to a stillness. We squeeze hands, look at each other, and smile. We have gathered our loose, breezy summer selves together again and are truly present for a meal and conversation before we drift off to more luscious outdoor time.

The candles on the porch last night pointed to a changing season, and, in thinking about it, I realized that the way we begin our meal in the winter is quite different. Every evening during the long dark evenings of winter we gather at the table around candles. It's a little chilly, the food is steamy, and we are again silent, but in the dark. We join hands, and someone (we're never sure who it will be) will sing a verse. The voice rises in the soft light, offering a prayer of thanks for this food, and drifts off into the dark. We squeeze our hands, look at each other, and smile. We are gathered once more with a feeling of profound gratefulness for our family (except for those times when the dog hiccups under the table--mood broken).

For sun and rain,
for grass and grain,
for all who toil on sea and soil,
that we may eat our daily bread,
we give our loving thanks dear God.

I see this blessing coming back into our lives very soon as the evenings shorten and the harvest comes in.

ellen  – (August 20, 2007 at 2:56 PM)  

What a wonderful, meaningful ritual.
Thanks for sharing.

kneek  – (August 27, 2007 at 2:35 AM)  

I love this gathering ritual. It seems so often we rush through our traditional thank you, eager to shovel the food onto our plates and forget entirely why we bother stopping to say anything at all. Silence is so profound. Lovely reminder.

Dawn  – (January 23, 2008 at 11:02 AM)  

I love this ritual, it's so beautiful. I'm going to have to remember to use candles more often, your table looks so pretty.

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