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Who's at the head of your table?

A Christian Science perspective.

By Susan Oakes / June 25, 2012



“Mom, you’d go to the moon and back to have us eat together,” recalled my grown daughter recently. I had to chuckle because it was, and still is, pretty much true. It has always meant a lot to me to have the family all sit down together, say grace together (meaningfully), and have a chance to connect with each other.

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Family dinner sometimes comes with some symbols, such as a head of the table and a centerpiece. The head of the table is often the mom and/or dad or sometimes a senior family member. The centerpiece is something of beauty on which all can focus together.

There are times, however, when families face challenges, which can become the center of attention. And there are times when the head of the table may shift in focus to the 2-year-old, teenager, friend, senior family member, or even an issue. Things can feel very problem- or person-centered.

At those times, I’ve found it immensely helpful to remember who is really at the head of the table, of the family – who is really at the center of the whole universe. Just as the Galilean revolution in thought about a sun-centered versus an Earth-centered universe was at first an unthinkable shift, and long and hard in coming, our conscious emphasis in our lives on God as the Principle, the intelligence of the universe, may seem like a hard shift to make in times of struggle.

We see ourselves, and others, as little centers. Parents may be afraid of yielding up their place as head. Children may likewise feel the need to assert their voice. But humbly yielding up our own perspective to something far beyond our limited earthbound view clears the fog of emotions so that we can respond more intelligently, lovingly, and with principle.

God sees so much more than we do. As Mother, She sees us as we deeply are, our spiritually honest selves at one with Her wisdom. As Father, His hand on our own, He moves us into harmony with a design more magnificent than the most exquisite symphony or stellar configuration. As Love itself, “God is at once the centre and circumference of being,” as described by Mary Baker Eddy in her book “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” (pp. 203-204).

To touch this place is a stilling act. It happens in what Science and Health refers to as the “quiet sanctuary of earnest longings” (p. 15), where we reach to really hear beyond a limited sense of ourselves. That deeper self resonates wholly with what the Bible refers to as the “still small voice”
(I Kings 19:12). A tender patience comes through. A quiet. Words that emerge then are healing ones.

By stilling the stirring surface stuff, we can each feel our inner yearning respond to our higher selves, to the very center of the universe reverberating as our thoughts.

The next time family dinner or its equivalent feels as if it is shifting into person or problem-centered mode, we have a precious privilege to quietly let Love move to the head of the table and watch Love work.

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