Minute Meditations

Gathered at the Table

Table waiting for guests.

Authentic prayer. cannot tune out a chorus of cries and commotion. It beckons us to lean in, let in, and tune in to life’s symphony of expression. From birdsong to train horns, sirens to love songs, protests to gunshots, verbal disputes to quiet kisses, mindful presence excludes nothing. It pulls up a chair for the unexpected guest, wisdom, awareness, or perspective. At the core of contemplation resides a paradox: the invitation to “restful dis-ease.” We settle into quietude; we enter the silence to listen closely to the world. Prayer-filled people do not absent themselves from the thorny trials of our times. If you dare approach the table to present yourself in prayer, then attune your heart to hallowed hope and hurtful grievance everywhere: deep yearning for peace in conflict zones etched on tortured faces; pleading people traumatized by cruel eruptions of violence; huddled crowds cradling flickering candles in tragedy’s wake…

Sooner or later, we all long to be gathered around a table wide, where welcome brings well-being, where we might listen and learn the meaning of mercy over sacrifice, and what it truly takes to love every other. Within us we all bear some sharp splinter of discord and turmoil. And we each hold some measure of tenderness— a head inclined, and a heart attuned to torment and tears. When next your circle gathers, set a place in the soft arc of your candlelight for unexpected guests. Holy is not narrow, nor is holy blind, holy is boundless welcome No matter how you would define “them,” will you hold open your heart and make a space for the folk who live, or look, or love differently? And how else can we hope to know and show the unexpected peace of the uninvited Christ? As you attend to the holy hunger you hold, whom do you need to welcome to your table?

—from the book Wandering and Welcome: Meditations for Finding Peace
by Joseph Grant

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