From the Very Rev. Kristina Maulden
Thanksgiving. Giving Thanks. There is a special call for that this week as we celebrate Thanksgiving, gathering with friends and family if possible, returning to fellowship around the table. So many emotions are thrown in a jumble, as we remember Thanksgiving past and present and notice those whose seats are now empty. I am thankful for those who gather this week. And I am thankful for those who I can no longer see but in the mirror of memory.
The table that sits in our dining room is a symbol of those memories for me. It has been in the family for over one hundred years. It was my Great Uncle George’s mother’s table originally. But I remember it sitting in the dining room of my Grandmother’s home in Minnesota. It was the place to crawl under, playing and hiding, when all the cousins were little. Around that table sat aunts and uncles, grandparents and parents. All the stories that were told around it I imagine have been absorbed into the very wood. Just like the rings that stained the table from condensation from glasses filled by hands that are now stilled, these memories have left signs that laughter and love were there.
Around that table, the divide of opinion was breached and hurt feelings were met with the assurance of reconciliation. I miss those times. I remember my Grandfather sitting at the head and carving the turkey. He was a quiet man with a Swedish accent and kind eyes. I see my Father sitting there as well when we would all return to Minnesota for Christmas or Easter. His hands were strong then and he could make us all laugh. My Mom would lead us in playing games and cards and wrapping presents. And Grandmother would beat us all in Scrabble. And we would eat good food sitting on a mismatch of chairs, including the piano bench on the far end for those of narrow hips. At that table. The same table that now my husband and boys gather around and tell stories, play games and wrap presents. This is the liturgy that plays out again and again in all our lives. We all have gathering places, even when the places we have called home have not always been welcoming.
There is a table that stands at the top of the steps within this Cathedral. This table, not of wood but of marble, represents the lives of the people who have waited and watched for God in every age. It is Jesus’ gift of an offering of a meal and of his life that surrounds this space with hope and possibility. This table around which we gather to share in the earthly version of the heavenly feast, has room for all people. And it is around that table where we find a thin place, where the veil between this physical world meets and blends with the spiritual. Gathered around are the people of God, past and present, sharing in the feast of God’s abundant love. And for this I am grateful.