Two weeks ago, Judy visited Table for the first time. She ordered a chicken salad sandwich. But it turns out that what really nourished her that day was something else entirely. Something that nourished me as well.
She called me over with tears in her eyes, holding out her cloth napkin: “My grandma used to invite us over and serve us kids on the fine china. And I told her, ‘Grandma, we don’t need fine china!’ But she would say, ‘No, honey. You’re home. You’re at Grandma’s home and you should have all the fine china, and I want you to know you are always welcome, no matter what.’”
Judy smiled at me and pointed to her napkin. “Maggie, I want you to know that this is telling people they’re home. You have no idea how much people need that. How much I need that.”
I had a whole other newsletter written, y’all. But then this weekend happened. Mass shootings take the wind and words right out of you. The violence doesn’t make sense and it’s not fair. I spent most of Sunday bowing my head in my window chair and searching for answers on my bookshelf.
From the pages of wisdom on that shelf, Judy called out to me. And Shanequa and her kids. And Jimmy, Larry, Kim, Tom, Thomas, and the hundreds more people that I’ve had the pure joy of befriending at the cafe. My people were on that shelf, beside our beloved Toni Morrison and Anne Lamott and John Pavlovitz, who pointed me right back to Judy and the welcome she found in her cloth napkin:
But in these days when it is tempting to be apathetic and to turn inward and to say “to hell with it all,” the world needs people who refuse to surrender to the bad news and become calloused and hardened. It needs people who still run headlong into the fray, tender hearts affixed to their sleeves; those with just enough hope to believe others are worth sacrificing for, crying for, fighting for, bleeding for.
It needs compassion more than it ever has.
It needs people like you.
Be encouraged today. —John Pavlovitz
Amid the chaos and grief and hate simmering in our country right now, let us “run headlong into the fray” together. We must continue to say hello to each other. We must continue to eat together. We must continue to encourage each other. And we must continue to lay out the good napkins for each other in the spirit of love, because we are home. We are in this home together.
Know this: you are always welcome and wanted at A Place at the Table. We put out our best for you, because we want it to be clear that when you are here, you are home.