“A loaf of bread, a jug of wine, and thou.” —Omar Khayyam
With our crazy St. Thomas schedule over the past few years, our travels to see our family have seemed rushed and few and far between. However, that period has now come to an end, and we have been enjoying the opportunity to visit with our family in a relaxed setting for a longer time period. Hmmm…perhaps ‘relaxed’ isn’t the most accurate word, but it is certainly a welcome time to reconnect after too much time apart.
Whenever we gather it seems we spend much of our time around the kitchen table. It is the place we come together to cook and eat and talk [and play on the computer and Facebook…]. I suppose this is why I enjoy cooking and food so much. It has been our families’ way to reconnect with us when we return home, and it has also been our way to keep connected with our boys over the years when they return to our house. They may have fought sitting at the kitchen table during their early years, but I do believe they appreciate it now. Perhaps they even look forward to it. I’d like to think they do…
I remember having a conversation with a group of women back when all of our kids were still in school. They were discussing soccer teams and whose child was on which team and all that went with it. At one point in the conversation one mom burst out with, “Can you believe XXX-MOM withdrew her child from XYZ-team because practice interfered with their dinner time?!?” The other moms gasped in disbelief and wondered aloud why that was a factor and how could she DO such a thing? I piped up to say it made sense to me, that our family usually ate together, and furthermore, that I felt it was important to stay connected with our kids. I further offered that if this was what worked for that XXX-family, then kudos to them. I admired XXX-Mom for standing up for their family values.
You’d have thought I said the most blasphemous thing ever. Everyone turned to stare at me; the other moms voiced their disapproval. I’m sure they would have ‘tsk-tsk-tsked’ me if they had thought of it…And then I was – for lack of a better word – dismissed. They disagreed with me, and then they acted as if I was no longer there. I did not expect everyone to agree with me, but to be so vehemently dismissed made me question who I was hanging out with. How did our values go so far astray? And beyond that, how did we learn to be so dismissive of other’s values? There was a disrespect in the way I was dismissed which I found deeply unsettling.
I don’t mind differences of opinion. I actually rather prefer to be around others whose opinions challenge my own. I like when discussion arises from these differences. It often expands my mind. Sometimes my own opinion shifts. Other times I feel my own stance is strengthened from such discussions. And every so often I am even able to be convincing enough to sway others to my point of view. This only happens when you have two or more minds willing to agree to disagree in the end, who respect one another enough to allow that there may be, and often is, more than one right answer.
“A conversation is a dialogue, not a monologue. That’s why there are so few good conversations: due to scarcity, two intelligent talkers seldom meet.” ~ Truman Capote
I would like to see more of that in this world: Less hatred, more conversation; more listening. Less dismissal, more inclusion. I wonder, does it begin with time around the kitchen table? I think it’s the perfect place to begin. Perhaps if we spent more time breaking bread together we would learn to accept one another more readily, to embrace how others see the world, even if it is not the same way we see it. I have said it before, and I hold to it: I believe that when we break bread we break down walls.
I’ll go get the bread ready…