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family dinner

by Shawni

I came across a picture of this painting a little while back and I instantly fell in love with it:

It is by J. Kirk Richards and it is called “Entertained Angels,” inspired by the verse in Hebrews 13:1-3 where it says “Let brotherly love continue. Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”

And yes, I see those angels there, glowing and entertained beautifully at that dinner table, those serving them honed right in, loving them. I love the thoughts that come to mind from that title.

But when I first saw that painting I thought of family dinner and it spoke to me.

Because I’m a huge proponent of the beauty of family dinner, maybe now more than ever. You see, sometimes it’s only when something precious dwindles and fades that you realize it is a treasure worth holding on to with all your might. It seems to be few and far between when we are all four home at the same time for dinner these days. Claire has volleyball matches two or three times each week until late into the evening and practices the other days. Lucy has choir and piano lessons intermixed with piles of homework. So when we sit with our shrunken family nestled in on our now-too-large table it feels sacred to me.

And it makes me think of the holiness in family dinners through the years. Oh, I never would have linked the word “holy” with “family dinner” back in those days: the ones filled with the chaos of kids bellowing and knocking things over, babies in high chairs slathering food into their hair, the grumbles because so-and-so pinched so-and-so, the cacophony of voices all straining to be heard over the din: “happies and sads” reported from the day, teasing and huffiness mixed in with laughter and oh, and the clean-up. Even the clean-up was sacred to me:

(Gosh I’m missing my babies right now!)

No, I wouldn’t have thought to link “holiness” with all that mumbo jumbo back then, but oh it was beautifully holy. Every piece of it.

And it still is, of course. Now it’s just a more calm kind of holy :). Last night we finally found ourselves all home for dinner and it felt to me a little like that painting up there, honed in and “there” with each other. Lucy told us about her PE anatomy test coming up. Claire told us about volleyball practice, and we talked about the Homecoming volleyball float we are working on for the parade this week. Lu and I told Dave and Claire about the Schuyler sisters we did a little research on when she got home from school (that girl eats, drinks and sleeps everything Hamilton these days). We tried to get Lucy to eat her butter chicken (new recipe I need to share soon). There was nothing fancy, and we weren’t sitting there for all that long. But we shared that moment together and felt that connection. And that’s what it’s all about.

Anything that makes us stop in our tracks and just “be” is a beautiful thing. And family dinner is one of the best “stopping” mechanisms in my opinion.

Who knows, maybe we’re all “entertaining angels” in disguise as our messy and unruly, sometimes disrespectful, eye-rolling kids. Ha!

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11 comments

Paola Jellings October 22, 2019 - 4:56 am

As always, so beautifully stated. A wonderful reminder for a mama who is usually doing dinner on her own with 5 littles because Dad works late. I will remember that this evening ❤

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Christi {Jealous Hands} October 22, 2019 - 5:04 am

It is something sacred to be gathered around the table together. Loved seeing this picture from the past! xo

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Catherine October 22, 2019 - 6:42 am

Thank you for this reminder! We need to eat dinner at the table more often. It’s too easy to fall into ‘dinner in front of the TV’ mode!

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Christine October 22, 2019 - 7:09 am

Family dinner is elusive for us too! I love how you captured that moment from years past. Those little things mean so much more in retrospect. I’m working on making dinner a more deliberately enjoyable time instead of just something to ‘fit in’ between the busy-ness. Thanks for the reminder and heart-felt thoughts.

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Lisa October 22, 2019 - 7:26 am

I especially like the part where you describe being together as “sacred”. I am pretty much an empty nester now. I understand your desire to have quality time when you are together. I will think of those times as “sacred” also because that is what it truly is. Thank you for sharing this. It spoke to my heart. <3

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Jill October 22, 2019 - 10:02 am

I remember when you posted that video originally (I’ve been here a long time). Goodness, I miss my babies too!!!!

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Jean October 22, 2019 - 10:57 am

When my son and daughter were growing up, I was a stickler for family dinners. Sometimes it meant late dinners before we were all able to sit together. Now that we’re “empty nesters”, and my children have their own homes, we still all get together every Friday night for dinner together. It’s just now we’ve included a daughter-in-law and two beautiful grandchildren. I love our Friday evenings together with three generations catching up from our week. We cook together, talk, laugh, have impromptu dance parties, tell stories, etc. It’s the best part of my week!

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Lauren Rose October 22, 2019 - 6:32 pm

One of the last things my Mom said before she passed away was that family dinners are so important and that we should keep doing them after she was gone. That painting has me thinking of her as an angel with us at the table :). I might have to get myself a copy of it!

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Kim Bradshaw October 22, 2019 - 8:20 pm

I’ve been thinking today of things common but made ‘holy’ by the way I approach them…and the example from my life that I thought of was preparing food for my family…normally a common event in my day but when approached with a different attitude and intention…becomes meaningful and in a sense…holy. This post aligned exactly with my thoughts for the day. Thanks!

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Sheila Bailey October 22, 2019 - 8:48 pm

I’ve been a reader for a long time- I don’t think a post of yours has ever spoken to me more. We have the same family dynamic as you (minus 1 kid and a dog). We are left with two kids at home, and the older of the two works almost every night and she leaves before dinner. It is most often my husband, our 13 year-old, and me. To be honest it’d hard to even cook dinner anymore because it’s so quiet with the three of us and we are often doing our own thing. I loved the video. We have a few like that and they are treasures of a past time. When we do have a family dinner (Sunday nights) we are all together and it is very special. I love this time of life but I never knew it could be so hard to watch our kids grow up and leave.

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rom redmi 4a miui 9 January 13, 2020 - 11:14 pm

amazing post thanks for sharing with us

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