Ibulliance: At Table with One Another

Last week, in Charleston, Ibu allies gathered around ten tables in the intimacy of ten homes to meet and talk with our partners who had traveled from Colombia. Susu, one who volunteered to host, sat at the head of her elegantly set table, laughing. I've never done this—hosted a group of strangers at my table. Then she thoughtfully said, Let's take a moment to tell one another who we are and…why Ibu? And so, the gathered began to unwrap the stories of how we belong to one another, falling into an immediate camaraderie over bites of soupy rice and duck and a common enthusiasm for the women of the world.

This summer, I was lucky enough to be invited to dinner with Joy Harjo, our country's poet laureate three times over, who has been truthful in serving up the stories of her Muskogee nation to join the tales of pilgrims' pride. I think now of her poem about the table that gathers us—how it holds everything—not only the gifts of the earth, but the marks where babies once teethed on its corners, the lessons children learned there, the songs spilt in joy and prayers in sorrow, dreams drinking coffee together, thanks given. The table holds everything.

Tomorrow, many of us in this country will be seated around some form of feasting. The table gathers us again, hoping we will pause long enough to actually savor the earth's goodness (for me, my sister-in-law's corn pudding browned and bubbling, a Turkey basted in memories, the ceremony of caramel cake). And in that pause, the prayer of the table is that we look around to see into one another, spy the subtle changes of the past year, the dreams under the table. To ask, with eyes and hearts awake, why are you here?

It is at table that the world happens. It is here that we may taste sweetness; here that old damaged love may survive, even heal. It is here the truth may spill, haltingly, out. It is here that peace begins in this world, if peace is to begin at all. As Joy Harjo ends her ode to this gathering place where all is harvested and held… Perhaps the world will end at the kitchen table, while we are laughing and crying, eating of the last sweet bite.  

All the Best,