Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Grace Around Grace

Nest on Table

Grace and the barn: it brought us the story of a particular table that sits on the porch of our sweet Canadian friend Ann.

But such stories are only beginnings. Our lives, and perhaps the tables in our lives, have stories behind stories behind stories. It was my profound artist friend Erin who remembered this, who said in the comment box, Ooooo, I bet the history behind that table is a gooooood story.

So I wrote to Ann, asking for the story behind the story. And this is what she said...

A story behind that table? At first, I thought no... no stories that I know. Discarded from a sister-in-law, we dragged it off to the barn, where it quietly sat for the past decade.

And then, yes, it came — a story scrap (for isn't everything storied?)

I wanted a gathering place for the porch... nothing grand or ornate. (Read: nothing glass, shiny, curvy). Just simple, a bit worn, quiet. (Do seating arrangements reflect our personalities?) Like a hawk, I scoped out thrift stores, garage sales. To no avail. Couldn't find a plain, wooden, worn table. (Does this somehow speak of the oddity of this personality? ~warm smile~)

And then I thought of the barn table: Yes. Exactly right. (Yes, I'm a farm girl— where else to find the perfect table?)

The only glitch was that kind Dutch Farmer whose wedding band I wear. He said he needed the barn table to remain in the barn. It was a fine repository for various miscellany. The perfect size. The perfect shape. The perfect age. I agreed.

For the porch.

Negotiations continued for a few weeks. As days warmed, and the porch called for leisurely sitting and talking and eating, I pressed. But neither could I find a similar replacement table for the barn.

And then one inviting summer day, there was the table, sitting out on the porch, waiting.

Confused, I asked 'But don't you need it still? And I haven't found one to swap you yet...'

He smiled kindly, the way he does. 'I'll make do. Table's yours.'


You wrote it so well, L.L: Grace and the barn. That's where Grace entered into our messy world.

And redeems us.

Nearly every day this summer, into the fall here, we've eaten out on the porch at least one meal a day around that barn-redeemed table. Saying grace around grace.

It was the perfect place to read Stone Crossings, L.L.

But then again, isn't anywhere?

For all is grace.

(I look forward to more grace places Stone Crossings has wandered too! Thank you for this place, L.L.)

All's grace,

I thank Ann for this story behind the initial story. And when I asked permission to lift it out of the comment box at my original post and raise it to the surface, this is what I said, hoping she would agree...

If you say yes, I think I will match it with a picture of an old wooden table that sits on my side porch. How many of us have old wooden tables in our lives? Oh, and wouldn't it be fun (I think it would), to invite people to do their own posts of such tables. And their own sweet, and struggling, and hopeful and mournful, and joyful posts about such tables.

So there it is. Do you have an old wooden table in your life? A storied table, as Ann puts it? Or maybe an old wooden chair? I would love to see the pictures of such tables or chairs, hear the stories. And if you tell me that you've posted such, why of course I shall link to you.* It could be our own way of saying grace around grace.

*Your patience appreciated as to the speed of my linking... I'll be in Paris for some days coming up, mostly internet free. But I shall get to it. I promise.

Old Wooden Table Photo, by L.L. Barkat. Woven Nest, by Sara and Sonia.

Warrior Princess' Grace, Tables and an Artist's Easel
Hildegard's Resting on Grace 1
Hildegard's Resting on Grace 2

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Blogger Lynne said...

My old wooden table is of uncertain provenance. I bought it when I was in my 20s from an old man who I saw outside the local antique shop. He had a rusted old bakkie (South African version of a pick up)which was laden with old furniture.
He'd come from the Swartland (where I live now)to do his rounds of the antique shops in Cape Town's plush Southern suburbs.
I had a newborn baby (now 26 years old) and very little money, but he agreed to sell it to me at his price (R100, about $15).
The table has a yellowwood top which glows rich gold in the sunlight and turned, stinkwood legs. It was 10 years before I could get a set of chairs to go round it.
It's roughly made and a bit too high, but I love it. It is a table rich with memories. It's heard laughter and tears, its been a changing table, a homework table, a kitchen table and a dining room table.
I took it with me when we moved to England and brought it back to Africa again. I managed to salvage it as my marriage broke up.
I brought it with me when I remarried, and now, we have brought it home to the Swartland.
Full circle.

9:24 AM  
Blogger Sarah said...

I don't have a wooden table of my own (our apartment barely has room for the handed-down tile-and-laminate one we eat around), but I wanted to jump in and say that this is such a wonderful story. The love and gentleness and grace touched me so deeply...thank you both, for sharing it.

11:30 AM  
Blogger kirsten said...

grace around grace. grace twice sounds so lavish when grace once is already so, so much. but yes ... i think i will sit at that table.

11:50 AM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Lynne... Welcome to Seedlings. What a wonderful table story. I can see the yellow-wood top, the height just a bit beyond reach, the love and struggle and hope that it has witnessed. Thanks for sharing.

Sarah... I went off to do laundry, down to the musty basement and your comment was on my mind. She has no wooden table of her own. Somehow, this contained worlds of thought and meaning, so that I suddenly thought it would also make a good post to talk about the absence of such a table in one's life. You know, if you felt like tackling this kind of thing. I'd love to read it.

Kirsten... I loved that phrase too, but perhaps that secret is already betrayed by the title of my post. : )

5:07 PM  
Blogger Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

This was a lovely story.

Yes, I have such a table. It's the old kitchen table that my family of origin at supper around through much of my childhood. It has paint on it from my brothers making model cars and cigarette burns (from said brothers) and rings. It sits next to my washer and dryer and mostly gets ignored.

This post is making me feel like I need to go stroke it and say hi.

5:30 PM  
Blogger Heidi said...

I've just finished my post on some eclectic little chairs that found their way to my dining room, brightening my days quite literally. I'd love to have you stop by and meet them. In fact, thinking of my chairs brings to mind the stories of the rest of my furniture--all graceful pieces, redeemed pieces--and I may well start a series of posts.

8:40 PM  
Blogger RissaRoo said...

There's no item of furniture in our house that means more to me than our old wood table! It's huge, a big old slab of oak atop two sturdy end pieces. My father in law made this table for his family when my husband was just a boy...he planed the top, sanded it smooth. The pieces fit together simply and perfectly! He designed it himself, to withstand years of use and abuse (four active boys!). The most precious thing about that table is that he included beautiful cutouts on both ends, the pieces that support the table have crosses cut out, and below each cross is a tear-drop shape...the flame of the Holy Spirit, in hopes that conversation around the table will be blessed by His presence. The table was passed down to us when my in laws got a new, designer dining room set. I wouldn't trade it for anything! I love its simplicity, I love it that it is weathered and marked with years of use, I love it that every detail...though worn...has a story of its own. Every mark, chip, crack and imperfection reminds me of something dear to my husband and brothers in law as children, the meals I ate there when it lived in my in law's house, the conversations we've had around it, the prayers, the fellowship. Every water ring, dent, and paint stain reminds me of how blessed we are, how our three children settle around that table for school and projects....Thanks for reminding me how grateful I am for that table!

The cross cutout on that table is pictured on the header of my blog, and in one of my gratitude posts. Your post inspires me to write about our table! Thanks for the reminder, I think I'll go rub the wood with some orange oil.

11:35 AM  
Blogger Sarah said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

12:26 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

Sorry...the link was bad. Anyway, it didn't turn out to be what I thought it would be, but here are my thoughts.

12:28 PM  
Blogger Jenn Jilks said...

What a lovely blog. I am finding healing in nature in My Muskoka . We moved into my parent's newish home and I find healing simply sitting by the water. My dad was handy with tools, despite a difficult battle with a brain tumour, and I see his expertise all around the property. I embrace the beauty of his gifts and it helps me mourn and heal.

9:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, LL, as usual, such beautiful things here: ideas, words, pictures, memories, friends. I have a little wooden table sitting out back on my porch and an old wooden chair I am growing old with. One day soon, their stories may emerge. I didn't, though, hear the story of your old wooden table. Tell it to us, do.

9:06 PM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

Of course I like that story as well. Grace around grace is a nice way of putting it. And oh how we need that. Makes alot of memories, for sure.

5:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh this is an older post, but my first time reading it and i must comment, because just as you wrote this i was returning home from sitting around that very table. ann didn't tell me the story while i was there, but we had dinner around it every night and sang hymns as the sun went down over the of my loveliest memories. everything in ann's house has a story and a history. it's a place where faith lives.

lovely writing here...

1:11 AM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Tonia, thank you. So good to hear the voice of one who blends voices with dear Ann!

12:52 PM  

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