Last week we built a table. Well, Trevor did. I mostly documented the process with my camera and made the occasional encouraging remark.
For years we had a dinky, glass-topped IKEA table, one of those bachelor purchases Trevor had made before I was really in the picture. Neither of us were ever too fond of it, for no real reason. We managed to avoid it our entire first year of marriage, opting for dinner on the couch almost every night. It was skinny, a little sickly looking for a kitchen table. Not something you want to plop down at after a long day. Dinner parties were always crowded, and not in a cozy way; my parents had to sit at our island for Easter dinner.
We needed something where we could actually have room for place settings and pots of mashed potatoes and, when I was dreaming really big, a centerpiece. And so, last week, we decided that we had officially outgrown our cheap newlywed table.
Trevor spent the entire weekend sanding, sawing, and making at least four trips to Lowes. We had invited two couples over for chili that Sunday night and were determined to have it finished by then. And it was, mostly. The finish wasn’t entirely dry (the dishes made a nice thwick sound when you lifted them up), but it was beautiful and bulky and enormous and everything I ever wanted in a table.
We sat in bed later that night, admiring it through the doorway. It’s a simple thing. Just a few wood planks. But it seems, to my sentimental self, to represent so much more. I, the girl so hesitant to even talk about having kids, can suddenly envision bibbed babies at that table, grinning up at us through mashed avocado. I see meetings held around that tabletop, late into the night, laptops and me pouring everyone cups of coffee as we dream about planting a church. I see myself in early hours of the morning, notebooks scattered and candle lit, as I hash out early drafts of a first novel. I see old friends laughing uproariously over a cheesy board game and some wine, and new friends sharing their stories with us for the first time, maybe over a new French recipe I braved. Family meals, birthdays, projects, early morning quiet times, celebrations. All the good stuff of life.
I get a little twitchy thinking about the future. How can we have kids if we can’t afford a house? How can we plant a church one day or be missionaries if we don’t even know how to lead a small group together? How will we make it all work?
But the table – that’s a start. A very small, yet important step to whatever our future holds. Because the table, really, is what holds it all together. It’s the gathering place, it’s where dreams are shared, where dinnertime slips into kairos time. It's where ideas are birthed, friendships cemented.
It makes me feel just a little more grown up. Not because the IKEA table was really so bad, but because now I have a clearer picture in my head, a piece to the puzzle, of how our lives will look when we grow up. I don't know where we'll be in five years or what we'll be doing, but I know that table will be there, probably with a few marks and scratches picked up along the way. But right now it's shiny and new and there are candles and flowers on it - time for quiet celebrating and hope-filled dreaming.