Gather ’round my table

“Gather ’round my table.  Say grace with me, in my little trailer in the mountains of Wise County.”

Micole sang the words, blanket draped over her arm, clothes ready for bed.  Janean provided the music, guitar in her hands, legs reclining on the floor.  We were all cramped into a tiny hallway.  The floor smelled of feet – the feet of summer camp counselors and weekend retreaters and the muddy boots of Workfest volunteers – but we sat on it anyway.

I was back at CAP in Kentucky, where good company outweighs the smell of feet and heavy sorrows are transformed into beautiful songs.

It was three weeks – three weeks of saying hello…three weeks of saying good-bye.  There were all the old faces: Clarence, a bag of chocolate in hand, wearing a grin and saying  “How much do you love me?”.  Janean, overflowing with life, loving McCreary County and the people in it with all she’s got.  Debbie, kindness personified, apron on and ready to help.  Larry, in a new truck, but with the same uncanny ability to have whatever I might need – a tool, a ladder, a story, a laugh.  Ben, ever-steady, filled with the deep, quiet kind of love that pops up in slow smiles and return trips to a land that is not home.  And so many others – so many beautiful people – so many beautiful places – so little time.

On my jobsite, we built a room, a porch, and a roof.  We built relationships.  College students bonded over post holes.  Jerry and Linda, the homeowners, gave out drinks and helping hands.  Mel and Sarah, the homeowner’s parents, stopped by, in theory to look at the progress, but mostly to trade laughs and stories and dances to country tunes.  At the end of each week we found ourselves filled with gratitude, and we cherished it.

Over the three weeks, we discovered what we already knew:  that the most wonderful places are these; places where people come together to share burdens and to share joys.

So, gather ’round my table.

Say grace with me.

This world may smell like feet, but we’re in it together.  And isn’t that wonderful?