Around the Table
Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table. – Psalm 128:3 (NRSV)
In these early weeks of the school year, I remember one long-past when my second son went off to an arts high school far from home. We flew from Maine to Michigan. I made his bed in a tiny shared room, then attended a meeting that rated the kinds of helicopter parents we should avoid being: a Black Hawk helicopter, a traffic copter, even Harold the helicopter (friend of Thomas the Tank Engine). When it was time to say goodbye, we stood near the lake on campus, and I put my hands on his face and prayed for him, words of blessing and benediction.
I remember the feeling more than the words, a strange mixture of pride and grief, excitement about his possibilities for learning tempered by an awareness of how much I would miss his voice in my house and his face at the dinner table. I made a commitment to be available but not to hover, to park my helicopter in the hangar.
I know better than to read the words of Psalm 128 as materially literal, a prayer that assures us that if we walk in God’s ways, we will prosper. But that son is 30 now, a parent himself, holding his own child and murmuring words of blessing into her ears. And there are few joys greater than sitting around the table and hearing her infant laughter, a song of praise and wonder reminding us of what it means to be happy: to look at the faces of those we treasure and know what it is to love and be loved.
Holy One, all the tables where we gather are your tables. Our fruitfulness is from you and for you. Amen.
Martha Spong is a UCC pastor, a clergy coach, and editor of The Words of Her Mouth: Psalms for the Struggle, from The Pilgrim Press.