A guest post from my friend and gospel singer extraordinaire Janet Paschal.
|It was defined by slabs of wood laid across cinderblocks. These makeshift shelves were stocked with cans long emptied of vegetables, but still brandishing a decipherable sticker price from our local A&P. Atop one of the shelves was my bright blue Tom Thumb cash register, filled with Monopoly money and loose change. I first played consumer, selecting various items for purchase, then I became the cashier, a role which made it all worthwhile. I would mentally tally the items then accept cash payment. When I pressed the register’s ‘Total’ button, a bell would ring and the cash drawer spring open. I spent hours upon pleasurable hours playing ‘store’ in the pine trees. I also received more tick bites and reprimands for staying too long outdoors than for any other single trespass.
When mom summoned us for supper, it was fairly predictable. We sat at the four seat, yellow formica table with chrome edges. Someone prayed, then we began passing the food. My mom talked to dad about whatever things were happening at her job and he did the same. My sister and I knew about the cutbacks, expansions, and daily routines of both our parents because most of their communication happened at the dinner table. We also knew about world events, local economies, and the rising cost of heating fuel. My sister talked about her day at school in her inimitable fashion, aiding and abetting where necessary. I think I learned more about home economics from her vivid descriptions at the dinner table than from the class I attended three years later. I have come to understand how fortunate we were to share that time together every day. I have come to understand that I was gleaning life lessons over fried chicken and homemade biscuits. I did not then realize that I was learning about character, as my dad would relate an event at work where someone had proven untrustworthy or less than completely honest. I had no idea that I was learning about compassion, as my mom spoke of the dire needs of the people with whom she worked. (None of us wondered why she sometimes packed extra lunches.) I did not know that I was learning to embrace friendship from my sister who assumed everyone on the planet was a friend she had yet to meet.
Perhaps this is why that one of the most poignant moments of Jesus’ 33 years on earth was, for me, during the Bible’s most familiar meal. The Passover supper was so important that Jesus gave specific instructions regarding the location and told his apostles that he had ‘eagerly desired’ to eat the meal with them. It was here that Jesus shared His upcoming betrayal. Knowing that His time was quickly coming to an end, He gave them a Reader’s Digest version of the things that really matter: the greatest should be the least, the ruler should be the servant, and then the payoff. Because they had been faithful to follow Him, they would eat and drink at His table and occupy thrones in the kingdom. He singled out Simon Peter (a preacher once said that perhaps Jesus took his chin in His hand) when he said, “Satan has desired to sift you as wheat, but I have prayed for you.”
So, when you next share a meal with family or friends, remember to lean in and pay close attention. Try to listen between the lines and hear the past, as well as the present. Don’t forget that this is a great opportunity to affect those with whom you break bread. And if your children are like me, fascinated with the outdoors, give them a break.
They may have customers waiting.
Have a blessed September…Janet
Janet blesses her friends at Janet Paschal and Friends at Facebook and Twitter and her website, www.janetpaschal.com.