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Commentary: Serving Up Conversation

Reverend Dr. Monica Corsaro is a United Methodist clergy from Galesburg.

It is the centerpiece for "The Waltons."  Every Sunday the Reagan clan of the”"Blue Bloods" sits around it to talk about family, politics, and the moral question of the week.  For "The Conners"  it is the center of the opening credits and for once they are all laughing,  And we cannot forget the women of "Sex and the City." They always found glamourous ones to sit around to talk about too much detail of their lives, and we soaked it in.   

What am I referring to?  The table, of course. That place where stories are told, prayers are said, confessions made, life plans worked out.        

Tables come in many forms and are made out of many materials: stone, wood, vinyl, oh and the formica. They come in many shapes: square, round, oblong, with leaves, without leaves, folding.  No matter the form, size, or materials, they are made to serve a similar purpose: to feed people yes, but at a table those gathered together must look at one another, engage with one another in an intimate way.  A place has been set to become community together.  

The table, in particular, my dining room table, has become my lifeline to the world and an amazing place at which folks as of late have been sharing their deepest thoughts, questions, and creative ideas of what they want to do in the world because the space has been created. 

The afternoon of September 12 I took a fall at work and broke my foot. I can no longer put weight on the foot, which means I no longer can get around as my independent self. I need equipment.  I have crutches, a scooter that I wheel, and I wear a heavy boot to protect the break and keep the foot stabilized.  All this I have just to get around my house. The larger world is much trickier. 

While I am grateful and all too acutely aware my situation is temporary. I have a profound sense now of what it is like for those who need wheels full time and just how difficult it is.  I have also discovered while I am out and about that I need help with just about everything.  I need help getting up and down stairs that don’t have railings, I need help getting to and from places. Once there I need help getting around furniture, getting food and a cup of coffee. I need help to open a door, and never mind being able to close one.  It feels exhausting just to be.  

And to the rescue, my dining room table.  My dining room table in particular is a sacred piece of furniture you might say. It was the first piece of furniture I bought after my divorce.  It is over sized and made of worn French oak.  It says you are meant to sit here for hours, enjoy the food that has been prepared with love before you, and that there is no rush to leave -- you are invited to be here for hours. My table has served me well for long dinners with friends who become family at this table.

Because it is so hard to get down steps and be in small spaces, colleagues, student groups, and community folks I work with have been willing to come to me and sit with me at my dining room table.   They have my captured attention around the table and in these moments what students, colleagues, and community folks have shared with me are their deep questions, their meaningful observations, joyous celebrations, and painful situations.  At the end of some days I am grateful and exhausted all at the same time with the sacred that has been shared with me. 

Because there are no distractions of a bustling center and a larger campus, the Holy conversation has time to enter and because, as most of you know I am an extrovert and this is my contact with you the humans, I am an engaged listener and contributor to the conversation. 

That table at your house that serves as a place holder with mail and life’s clutter? Declutter it and it invite some folks over, put the phones away, sit around it, look at one another, maybe even break some bread together and let the Holy community begin at the table.

Reverend Dr. Monica Corsaro is a United Methodist clergy from Galesburg. 

The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of Western Illinois University or Tri States Public Radio. 

Diverse viewpoints are welcomed and encouraged.