My daughters and I pulled in at Michelle’s house before she arrived. We knew we were welcome to go on in. By the time I wrangled with my couple of bags, the girls had already run inside. I entered the front door, set down my things, and walked into the kitchen. This picture is what I saw:
Rosie and Paloma with their favorite borrowed mugs in hand, standing in the kitchen, making cups of tea. Paloma was dressed in a red-ridinghood-cape. Rosie was barefoot. They were completely themselves, relaxed, welcomed, loved, and they felt probably more at-home in this moment than they did when we left our own house.
Michelle arrived, delighted we had already started the tea. We sat at the little round table, and she brought out a plate of cookies she had made for us. We began to talk. The kind of talk that breathes new life into all of us. I watched my girls settle into a slow pace and the sweet peace of knowing that we were going to be here for two glorious hours, that no one would need us to grab a baby or wipe a spill. There would be no reasoning with two year olds, no intercepting minor disasters, no interruptions, no unexpected change of plans. We were here. At the table. In a friend’s home. We made it to a safe place where we could sit and just be.
At my friend’s table, my girls came alive. I realized how they are growing. How much they have to say. How deeply they feel. How easily they share. In another person’s house, I gave them my full attention, as I would to any other dear friend who shared a cup of tea with me. I felt such gratitude that we were able to experience this sweet time together.
What an incredible gift it is to enter the house of a friend who has no other purpose than to love and listen to and bless you.
I want my house to be this for others. But I also want it to be this for my own children. Why is it such a struggle to slow down long enough to have a long, slow conversation with them at my own table? My husband and children are the dearest people to me in this life. How can I learn the art of welcoming them to this table? Of slowing down, of having conversations that are paced and easy and meander where they will. Why is this so much easier at other people’s houses?
If I’m honest, I am sometimes so focused on checking one more meal off the day’s to-do list that I miss the heart of what is happening at this table. The beauty of these little souls, gathered around in a sacred circle. Our eyes meeting, our bodies nourished, our souls connecting, our spirits lifting up thanks to God for his provision. This is where we share life.
I want to slow down and see the beauty in it. I want to listen to my children as if I were listening to an intimate friend. I want to sit at the table. To linger there. To love deeply. To allow my children to breathe a sigh of relief because we made it to a safe place where we can just sit and be. To show them that one of the greatest joys of my life is to welcome them, to hear them, to love them, and to bless them.