My kitchen table is always a busy place. (Not as busy as newsrooms or the White House were this week, but pretty busy nonetheless.)
I love family, I love food, and I love to invite people into my home to sit with me at my table. Oftentimes, I invite friends of mine or people I’ve met through my kids. Other times, I invite people who friends have suggested I meet because they’re doing something interesting in the world. I invite people who have different perspectives on different issues. People who think differently than me politically. People of different races. People of different faith backgrounds. I’ve even been known to cold-call someone I’ve read about and invite them to join me at my table.
It never ceases to amaze me how much I learn from those who join me. I learn how little I really know. I learn how vast the world is. I learn how wide-open people’s hearts are. How much suffering there is. How many creative and inspiring ideas are out there bubbling in people’s minds.
The other night, my table was filled with spiritual leaders from all different faiths who were planning an excursion to Pando in Utah. They are going there to illustrate the “oneness” that is visible in nature, with the hope that it will help others see the oneness that exists in all of us who share our common home.
A few nights later, the topic at my table was about mental health. We were talking about how to talk openly to friends about their mental health and about our own. Out of the blue during that conversation, a friend shared that they have had thoughts of depression, despair and suicide. None of us had any idea they were feeling that way. It was yet another reminder of how critical it is for all of us to reach out and check in on friends and family, if nothing else to let them know that we are here and that they are not alone.
Another night at my table recently, we had a fascinating and eye-opening conversation about the world of gamers and the misconceptions many of us have about who they are and the world that they inhabit. It illuminated for me, yet again, how little we know about so many sectors of our world — including sometimes the world of those who are in our own families.
This Sunday, I’ll be talking to my kids and whoever else is at my table about John McCain’s new book (he won’t be there) and the excerpts I’ve read from his book this week. They’ve moved me and really had me thinking about how we have to learn how to respectfully disagree… I’m sure those around my table will also be asking questions like “Can you believe what unfolded at the White House this week?” “No, I can’t,” I’ll reply. Politics always finds its way into the conversations these days, no matter who I’m sitting with.
I love that so many different types of people congregate at my table from week to week. It keeps my mind humming. It feeds my curiosity, not to mention that it feeds me emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Being in conversation — being in community and being in connection with others of all ages — is important to my mental health, my emotional health, and my overall well-being.
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I've Been Thinking .: Reflections, Prayers, and Meditations for a Meaningful Life