April 16, 2024

What does the Table Mean to You?

On April 4, 2024, our vision of shared community tables came to life in the wonderful Deanwood neighborhood of Washington DC. There, near Minnesota Ave. Metro Station, lies a historic restaurant called Eclectic Café which has been locally owned and operated for quite some time. 

It’s a community that has struggles that need our collective support. And so we gathered the community around a common table and invited people into conversation. 

After all, conversation is the most powerful part of shared tables. And so, as people were eating and connecting, I asked our guests to share their responses to the question, “What does the table mean to you?” 

A brave mother of five children, one of whom was lost to gun violence in DC, shared that once a month it is mandated in their house that they come around the table. Still to this day, their grown children come to their mom’s and dad’s house each month to sit at the table to reflect on their son/brother. She reflected that the shared family table is how they have healed through that journey. 

Another guest shared that despite his life-long addiction, he has recently learned to live alcohol-free. He kindly invited a neighbor to this table who also struggles with alcohol abuse. When the invited neighbor was asked what the table meant to him, he said “This guy who’s been helping me, he’s my only friend in DC. But being at this table today has really impacted my life because I feel like I’ve expanded my friendships now.” 

Wow! We welcomed and rejoiced with him, saying “Yeah you absolutely have more friends now! We’re here for you. We want to walk with you.”

This table at Eclectic Café is representative of a vision for shared community tables in 2024. Shared meals offer us a time together where our humanity can be experienced,  where people can hear one another’s stories and begin to think about a better way of life, a way of life that moves us forward in the right direction of loving and affirming one another. Where we can live as neighbors with our doors open to one another again. Can we get to that place where our conversation and our relational neighboring is so well done, that we can begin to open our doors again, where we can know one another and not be afraid of one another? 

This table we set at Eclectic Café is representative of that vision for shared community tables in 2024. We had friends and partners of Breadcoin from across the city come and be with us there. We had faith leaders, residents, and organizational leaders who serve the Deanwood community come alongside the table on that day. We were able to purchase our meal with Breadcoins as Eclectic Café is a Breadcoin vendor. Owner Rho Baskerville allowed us to spread a tablecloth like we were at Thanksgiving or a Sunday dinner at Grandma’s house. The food was served family style, so we were able to just come, sit down, and be together. 

At something as simple as a table, and in as short as an hour, we were able to care for our neighbor’s with love, compassion, and empathy. 

Only when our bodies and hearts are nourished, can we begin to walk the path of healing racial divides, cultural divides, political divides, and economic divides.

There is no better place than a table. 

We invite you to join us in setting tables for your neighbors – strangers and old friends alike. Set a table with a white tablecloth, enjoy a meal, and listen to one another. 

In an effort to honor this practice, Breadcoin is going to be hosting weekly shared tables at Breadcoin vendors across DC to ensure that all have a seat at the table. We are grateful to partner with restaurants that support this vision of transforming their business into a family meal for the community. Stay tuned for more details to come! 

Join us as we embark on this Table2024 journey. Share your pictures and stories with us with the hashtag #Table2024 on social media!

– Pastor William Spence