Young Writer’s Corner
By Hannah Hensley
Every evening, my family sits around our big kitchen table for our dinners. Most often our dinners aren’t served until 7 or 8 and sometimes even 9 or 10, because we work around everyone’s work and school schedules. All of us sitting together for dinner is more important to us than each of us eating individually at a more convenient time. Every evening ( or night) Dad sits at the head of the table with Mama to his right and the rest of the flock fills in the empty spaces. We bow our heads and pray to our heavenly Father and ask for His blessings and thank Him for what we have already been blessed with. We also sing a blessing, which ironically comes from an old Disney classic based on Johnny Appleseed.
“The Lord is good to me and so I thank the Lord, for giving me the things I need, the sun, the rain and the appleseed. The Lord is good to me.”
Too often our supper menu gets in a rut, each week our tired selves default to simple meals of burrito bowls, egg sandwiches, my own pasta concoctions or soups. Sometimes we make soup beans and the next night we make chili with the leftovers for the sake of ease and stretching the budget. Believe me, creating inexpensive, wholesome, healthy, delicious meals for 9 people, for a minimum 5 nights a week, is no easy task. I must say we love our food and we enjoy taking pride in the food we provide, but when 8 o’clock rolls around no one really cares that much. We’re just ready to come to the table and feast on what is set before us.
The dinner table is a place of refuge and reconnection for us. Sometimes the dinner table is full of chaos. In a home filled with different people, that means different schedules. Sometimes dinner time is the only time we get to see each other. Dad is up early every morning, goes to work, gets off work, goes to work with his business, Hensley and Sons electric and he usually doesn’t get home until 8 or 9 in the evenings. On the evenings he happens to be home, he’s busy fixing leaking pipes, busting wood, taking care of our small herd of cows and taking care of little ones. Mom is busy from the time she wakes up and mostly through the night due to a baby who won’t sleep. Every day she has the mundane task of running this home, keeping laundry going all day, training, caring and schooling the younger 5 children, while keeping up with the older 2 kids, paying bills, and book keeping for Hensley & Sons Electric. Haven goes to work every day from 7 to 5:30 and goes to night school 3 times a week. On Tuesday evenings or Saturdays, he spends his time studying, helping Dad with the business, working at his house, or visiting his girlfriend. Heidi has her school, piano lessons, and helping with the household chores and taking care of the little ones. I run my own housekeeping business about every day, work as an assistant 2 days a week, serve on our Church’s events council, currently starting another business and website, and of course have responsibilities at home, including cooking suppers. With our schedules the dinner table is a place for us to reconnect and recharge. We put our phones away, we gather, we sit, we sup and we converse. Most often we have to listen to two little boys talk non-stop, but when we can, we talk about upcoming events, weather, what’s going on in our lives, we share a song we’ve heard, we tell a story we know, we make plans with our businesses, we make plans for Bellflower Farm, we talk news and politics and really anything that connects us to each other. Then we hush and we have our Bible study and we are reminded of why we do and what we do.
Majority of the time our table is loud and chaotic, but for some reason we still leave it feeling refocused and not only at our table, but also at Mamaw and Papaws table on Friday evenings and Sunday afternoons. Even on Fridays our dinners are late because we wait for Haven to get off work. Mamaw usually cooks us meals that consist of cornbread or homemade bread, beans, a type of potato, a meat and a salad or coleslaw. Sometimes it’s tacos, or soup, or stir fry. But, whatever the food may be, we put away the phones, we gather, we sit, we pray and sing, we sup and we converse. Papaw sits at the head of the table with Mamaw on his right and the rest of us fill the empty spaces around the table.
Most of our dinners at their table is filled with laughter and stories, but we also talk of the important things in life. We talk politics, religion, and family. We tell stories and ask about “so and so”. We talk about hard things with no need to tip toe around them. We tackle them and we come away knowing and loving a person or persons more than we knew possible. We leave the table renewed, refreshed, and revived.
On Sundays we all go to church together, Mamaw and Papaw included. At our church we partake of communion every Sunday morning. Together, all eleven of us, approach the table. We take the bread and the wine. Together we gather, we pray, and we sup. Together we are refreshed, renewed and revived. Together we share in the hope and joy we have in our Lord.
The dinner table is more than a place to sit. The food is more than nutrition. It’s coming together to connect and have conversation. It’s coming to receive leadership and discipline. It’s coming for Dad’s leadership, Mom’s instructions, Haven’s knowledge, Heidi’s joyfulness, Haddie’s smile, Hobie and Hyder’s funny little sayings, Hope’s chattering, Papaw’s jokes and laughter, and Mamaw’s stories. It’s about making time for one another and it’s about feasting. It’s about finding out each other’s need and wants. It’s about sharing joys and sorrows. It’s about laughing together. It’s about sharing the hope we have in Christ. Often, we talk about politics and our government at the table. We feel frightened and enraged at new laws or abortion and what the doctors are allowed to do and what we’re not allowed to do. We become upset at high taxes and national debt. We’re frightened of wars and terrorists. But at the end of each meal we get up smiling and usually laughing, because together we may share these fears and concerns, but more so we share hope and joy in the Lord for what He has done and what he will do. These fearful things have no hold on us.
Really the dinner table reminds me that we’re in this together. This life and our eternal life, because I know one by one He will call us home. He will call us to His table and together, we, His flock, will gather around His Table where He sits at the head and around Him we sit, and we will sup, and we will sing eternal praises. And we will be eternally renewed, refreshed and revived.
So, eat dinner together at the table, because really it’s Heaven here on earth.
Hannah Hensley, 21, lives in Erwin, TN with her family. She is the oldest of 7 children. She loves living in the Blue Ridge Mountains, writing stories and visiting her grandparents, who live in Mitchell County.