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!