I watched as they walked up the driveway to the backyard where the table was set. There were more than 40 people. A few came in groups, but most were alone, drawn to this most unusual dinner party by a common passion to be bold in their dreams and to encourage others to do the same.
Facebook profiles became flesh and bone before my eyes, and hugs spoke volumes. Prior to this evening, I had only spent time with 12 of the guests, save for comments on posts and tweets. But in this place, there were no strangers.
It felt like a sweet reunion.
Sarah is not afraid of sitting with strangers. For four years now, she’s set places for friends and friends not yet known at the farmhouse table her Dad built for her that sits under huge oak trees in her backyard. I was a stranger on that January night when she hosted a dinner for a group called Dreamers & Builders.
We’ve been friends ever since.
Her Neighbor’s Table movement has grown now to include tables in states across the US. I’ve traveled with her in a rented U-Haul truck to hand-deliver them, and we’ve talked for hours about what’s at the heart of her passion for people-gathering. Because that’s what it is – it’s not about merely building and selling tables at all to Sarah, really.
Neighbor’s Table is a ministry of reconciliation and communion.
“People ask if reconciliation is truly possible in our world today. It all goes back to the table for me. This world is becoming more and more fractured, more distant. I believe in the power of the table – I believe there’s power in gathering together and allowing who we are to be made known.”
(photos by Jim Shields)
This year, I’m sharing 31 thought-FULL things I’ve been taught by the women of Building Eden, the book I’m writing about women who believe restoration is a reality – on earth as it is in heaven.
There is not one who doesn’t fight, there is not one who isn’t afraid, there is not one who at times questions or wonders or worries that they’ll be found lacking in a world that loves to define by the doing. The women battle self-loathing, they battle mental illness, they battle loneliness, they battle their past. They battle oppression and bias and scorn.
And yet, they still believe.
And these women have taught me more about leadership, about servitude, and about being fully and gracefully and unapologetically a woman than any book, seminar, conference, or Ted Talk ever could.
What I share is just a taste of what will be in the book. I pray the words of the women will inspire you to be unafraid to stand in the gap to restore what is broken in the world around you.
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