In 1993 a very substantial 500 year-old oak trestle table from a monastery in Europe came into our lives just at the moment when Donna and I were planning our new home in Naramata. We happily accommodated its eleven foot length and all twelve CP Rail armchairs. We thought we were just acquiring a beautiful oak table and chairs; it only came clear over the next few years that we had actually opened space in our home for a communal table that brought with it a deep memory of holding and accompanying human community. We started to notice that guests were never in any hurry to leave the table when the time for eating was over. There was a predictable lingering at the table and a way that the grain of that ancient oak pulled on the graininess of our living and encouraged veins and branches of connection and accompaniment.
This week circumstances had me turn to another banquet meal at a special table, this one in a lovely poetic passage from the Book of Proverbs in the Bible where the host of the feast is Wisdom Herself. At the table of Lady Wisdom there is also something more than food on offer: here is a place to deal with life’s confusions and with the absence of meaning! Read the invitation for yourself:Lady Wisdom has built and furnished her home; it’s supported by seven hewn timbers. The banquet meal is ready to be served: lamb roasted, wine poured out, table set with silver and flowers. Having dismissed her serving maids, Lady Wisdom goes to town, stands in a prominent place, and invites everyone within sound of her voice: “Are you confused about life, don’t know what’s going on? Come with me, oh come, have dinner with me! I’ve prepared a wonderful spread—fresh-baked bread, roast lamb, carefully selected wines. Leave your impoverished confusion and live! Walk up the street to a life with meaning.” Proverbs 9:1-6 (The Message) What a fabulous opening into the intention of accompaniment! Here’s yet another wonderful metaphor to carry into the life of spirited accompaniment: I’ve been engaged by Lady Wisdom to entice those hungry for meaning with the aromas of fresh-baked heritage breads and Okanagan wines to the table of lingering conversations that promise to lead to a sacred clarity that is so much more than just an idea. This kind of satisfying of appetite is of the body and, of course, of the heart.
My hand runs along the grain of the monastic table feeling the resonances of hundreds of years of communal practice in accompaniment. The memory of the grain, the bread of insight, the wine of relationship, the engagement of voices, the Presence of Wisdom; all of it accompanies me as I follow the sound of Her voice inviting me to attend to the impoverished confusions of life and walk up the street to yet more freshness of meaning.Tim Scorer is part of the program leadership team for the Pacific Jubilee Program in Spiritual Direction. He’s an educator and facilitator, consultant to congregations, Spiritual Director, retreat leader and writer of adult study curricula.