Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Wintertime Family Dinners

When we sat down to eat the other night, the early setting sun and the changing of the clocks reminded me that my favorite family dinners have now arrived – wintertime family dinners.

While I talk all day as a teacher, (occasionally) write for this blog, and run great family meetings, I am largely a non-vocal presence at our dinner table. At mealtimes I am either lost in thought or quietly observing the rich phenomena of seven children eating dinner. Of course there is a “Put your knees down” here, a “No bathroom talk at the table” there, and the times when the kids ask me to go around the table and give them a math or science question to answer, but my default behavior is non-vocal.

I find that during the part of the year when the sun is up at dinner, I am usually lost in thought and not observing the children. Sitting at the table and being able to see past my children to the uncut lawn often proves to be just too much of a distraction for me to stay engaged in their banter. In addition, the meals are more rushed in order to get to a soccer practice or to some yard work. This creates an atmosphere where my mind is often elsewhere.

How different the experience is for me when the dominant source of light is the fixture above the table and not the windows. The photographer side of me enjoys watching the warm glow of my children’s faces due to the incandescent lighting. I also love that the distracting background is dimmed due to the lack of ambient light. The interestingness of the texture, the color of their skin and their facial features standing out against a darker backdrop causes me to now spend more time observing my children rather than being lost in thought. It is also a time of year when the call to go outside to work or play is quieter and one can linger a few minutes longer at the table. It is a wonderful change of pace for me.

This change of lighting – from the ambient light from outside to the single light above our table – helping to create more focus and intimacy at our dinner table reminds me of my relationship with Christ. How easy it is to be distracted by the competing light of the world. When I change my life back to single source lighting, my perspective changes. It reminds me of a song I use to sing as a child:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.


Laurel said...

GREAT post!

Laurel :)

The Organic Nest said...

Yet another great post to help us remember what's most important in this life. Without THE LIGHT, we are in utter darkness. Jenny P.S. Your family, even eating dinner, is a beautiful sight to behold. :)

Lory said...

Hello, Heather gave me your blog site. What a beautiful family and wife you have. I love the post, they are great. You should go on facebook when you get a chance and look at all the JAARS people from the past. It is fun to see how everyone is doing.... Have a great day, Lory Wagner Sibcy