If you have followed this blog for any length of time, or if you have read Keeping the Feast: Metaphors for the Meal, you know about Thursday Night Dinner. We gather each week with friends around our table for no other reason than to be around the table together. OK, so it also gives me a chance to try new things and have fun in the kitchen since I don’t cook in a restaurant any more. But even the cooking is aimed at us being together. The point of a good meal is to create a memory.
Ginger and I have had some kind of dinner gathering once a week for most of our marriage, and mostly on Thursday nights. In our years here on Trinity Avenue the dinners have taken on a new life. Some of it, I think, is because of Durham. This is a town filled with people for whom being together is a primary value. As I have said many times, it is the most encouraging place I have ever lived. Some of it is our big old house that feels as though it was built with open arms. From our first night in this place we felt at home. But most of it has to do with who sits around our table from week to week. Our dream has always been to have an open table where we can invite new people into the circle. Alongside of that dream, we have a Durham family of regulars for whom Thursday Night Dinner is as much a part of their lives as it is ours. They come early to help cook, they stay late to wash dishes, and in between we sit around the table and share our weeks and our lives.
We have gathered together to celebrate and to grieve. I suppose I would do better to find a way to say both of those are ongoing activities. We celebrate and grieve together on a weekly basis. John Berger says, “It is on the site of loss that hopes are born.” Around our table each week we have become midwives of hope. When we clear the table and everyone goes on to whatever tomorrow holds, I feel as though we have helped to give birth to more hope in our world.
As this Thursday night comes to an end, I feel as though if all I had to show for this week was I cooked for and ate dinner with my friends around our table that would be enough. I only wish the table were bigger.