At 6:00 this morning, 5 friends gathered around my kitchen table.
We shared coffee and oatmeal and stories from the week. We prayed through Psalm 102—reading it aloud from the New International Version and then The Message. And we sang together, our voices harmonizing in real time and in shared space. That was hours ago, but the coffee thermos and a few cups are still on the table. It’s nice remembering they were actually here.
Clay Shirky observed that “prior to the Internet, the last technology that had any real effect on the way people sat down and talked together was the table.”
Our kitchen table was a good investment. I like knowing it was hand made by Amish carpenters (ordered online, ironically, through a broker who bridges the cultural divide). It’s a big, sturdy table with four extra leaves, able to seat 14 people on Thanksgiving and whenever else that many people gather around it.
I like to think of all the pots of coffee I’ve shared around that table, all the elbows that have rested on it during long conversations. I like to think that one of our children will inherit this work of art so conducive to hospitality.
The online world is, I suppose, a virtual table. It has its advantages and opens all kinds of possibilities. What it does not do, however, is replace the kitchen table.