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The Kitchen Table

By Christine O'Brien

From the time I was three or four until we moved from the farm to town when I was seven, I spent as much time as my parents would allow with my grandmother. Grandma's house and especially her kitchen table was a sanctuary for me. Grandma had a huge old-fashioned kitchen opening onto a formal dining room, where the extended family ate on Sundays, and onto the back porch that led out to her extensive kitchen garden and her beehives.

Grandma and I sat at the kitchen table for breakfast and lunch, and each day she read a Bible verse picked randomly from a little plastic box. Often she would have a story about an earlier time when that verse had been selected. I still remember many of those stories. "This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it" was the one she had pulled out on Armistice Day, when, she said, the people all over the world had stopped fighting forever.

My time with Grandma was quiet and unhurried and yet when we were not eating or talking she was always moving about the kitchen or out into the garden to gather vegetables or berries, which were "put up" into red, yellow, green-filled Mason jars. On the kitchen table, she measured out the flour for dough to make noodles, rolled it out, cut it and left the noodles to dry. The honey with its drowsy bees was brought into the back porch, then glowed golden in its comb in rows of jars on the table before being stored with all the others, glowing on the shelves of her pantry.

This the colors, the sunlight, the unfolding, the attention, the intention, the process of the beauty of the things of my everyday life became sacraments to me. The luscious berries, the knife carefully used, the flour around the piecrust these things are sacred. From the Bible verses to golden honey, my grandmother created a world at her kitchen table that I have never left. I learned there how to bow to the world's beauty, to bow to the tasks of everyday and to the possibility of presence of spirit in all we do and in each beloved child of God.