Why It's Time to Build a Longer Table

July 25, 2016 by

To keep up with Norann and her thoughts on motherhood, discipleship, and great recipes, follow her on Twitter at @NorannV. 

Every day recently, as I’ve caught myself up on what’s going on in the world, this anonymous saying plays in my head:

“If you are more fortunate than others, it’s better to build a longer table than a taller fence.”

In this time of killing and random violence and coups and endless fear, it is time to get people around your table and feed them.

a table set for a meal outdoors

I know that other people find other ways of responding to what’s happening right now. They advocate or write policy or protest or memorialize or teach kids nonviolent behaviors.

But I know what I need to do. It starts in my heart and moves into the kitchen and ends up on our table. It is the sacred act of creating great food, pairing it with outstanding drink, and then gathering people around a table to share it.

It doesn’t matter who the people are. They may be loved ones, total strangers, people in the middle of grief, or a big, fun mix of old and new friends.

It doesn’t matter. Just get them together and feed them. Don’t wait for an excuse, because there is one every day in every single headline. It’s time to love each other. Now and not later.

For those of us who love to cook and are blessed with food to share, the beauty begins on the countertop with the rising bread, the array of vegetables, the cut of meat. It’s in the wealth of friendship of the others preparing the food with you.

When I’m in my kitchen, I know I’m in the ministry. The ministry of food.

Feeding people becomes a way to move forward right now because there is something so holy and healing about eating together. The very act of sitting down around food means that everything, and everyone, has to stop and be present. It creates a safe space for huge amounts of laughter and storytelling; it compels us to truly look into the faces of others.

Sharing a table has the capacity to open and heal wounds, bind up brokenness, reclaim old friendships, destroy tension, and renew love. A table which is regularly adorned with food and surrounded by guests has more power than any policy whitepaper because the best and most important things happen here.

If you are feeling fortunate right now, if you are feeling blessed, build that longer table and build peace.


About the author

Norann Voll portrait

Norann Voll

Norann Voll lived in New York’s Hudson Valley until moving to the Danthonia Bruderhof in New South Wales, Australia in 2002...

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  • It occurs to me that when this life is over, I'd like to be remembered for the quality of my heart, not my politics.

  • Hi Grace – I’m so glad you liked this piece. I wrote it (and the title) without any intentions of favoring one political party or another. Instead, I just wanted to inspire people that they can build positive and good things around their own table. I am so thankful that you approach politics with prayer. All the best, Norann

    Norann Voll
  • I like this but your title is anti Trump. After much prayer, I'm a Trump supporter.

  • Once I heard about a longitudinal study on the factors contributing to success. The one that rose to the top of the list was not income, education, race, or any of the ones you'd expect; it was eating family meals together.

    Phil Gattis
  • Thank you for putting into words my very feelings, I have always believed that sitting together eating together is such a healing process. God bless your ministry.

    Lydia Lewis