I spent this past weekend in Hawaii celebrating my grandma’s 85th birthday. Her birthday was in January, but two of her brothers and their wives came to Hawaii from Okinawa to celebrate her. It was a great weekend and not just because I was in Hawaii. I had an amazing time getting to know my great uncles and aunts, even though there was a bit of a language barrier.
One of my uncles and his wife speak English, but the other uncle and aunt don’t speak any. I was able to communicate with those who speak English, but I didn’t have much to say to the others. Once we sat down together for dinner, though, language stopped being an issue.
Something amazing and miraculous happens around the dinner table. Regardless of culture and language, eating is an integral part to the human experience. I may not have been able to understand my uncle Toko, but we were able to sit across from each other and share the experience of eating a meal together.
I figured out what kind of wine he likes and was able to order him a glass.
I shared a bite of my lobster mac and cheese with my aunt and she smiled, letting me know that she enjoyed it.
We all needed to eat, we all enjoyed the meal and it showed me that we had a lot more in common than I had thought. Who needs language when we can have steak?
There’s a reason Jesus commanded us to model the Last Supper when we take communion. The Last Supper was one of Jesus’ most intimate moments with his disciples and it’s no coincidence that it took place around a table. Sharing a meal brings us together with others. When we come to the Lord’s Table, it brings us together with Jesus as well as with Christians all around the world and all throughout time.
I’m so grateful for my time with my family and our meal together. The trip was going well before we had dinner on Saturday night, but that dinner was extremely special. My uncles and aunts invited me to visit them in Okinawa and I would love to go. But even if I don’t ever make it, we’ll always have those moments around the dinner table.
How have your relationships been deepened around the dinner table?