If I stand in the middle of our church parking lot, on a beautiful night, like the one we just had last night – the sun is setting, the cicadas are singing, there is a breeze in the air – and I manage to stop long enough – to not dive into my car and hurriedly head off to the next thing – but instead stop and really look around, it always catches me. The scene that surrounds me holds me and invites me to take in a deep breath that clears out some soul space within me.
There is something about eight acres of open land, with an old hay barn and a couple of silos, and groves of mature, stretch-to-the-heavens-size trees existing right in the midst of the hustle and bustle of our North American suburban reality. It’s a space and a setting that invites deep breaths, that encourages you to slow down, that reminds you of the beauty of God’s creation – which includes those gorgeous trees and the lush green grass that surrounds them, but also our gorgeous selves and the people that surround us, as we live out our busy days.
The author Kristin Schell writes this about the world we are inhabiting in the book, The Turquoise Table: Finding Community and Connection in your own Front Yard.
We live in a digital age – the most connected era in all of history – yet statistics show we’re lonelier than ever. We live in a chatty world, but we have lost the power to communicate. We’re starving for connection that can’t be found in a tweet or text, but only face-to-face in community.Kristin Schell, The Turquoise Table, page 22
Kristin was living life as a suburban mom in Texas and feeling the grind of the busyness that fills so many of our days. She felt frazzled and distracted and disconnected from real and authentic community. She looked around her and knew she wasn’t alone. She longed for real connection. She longed for relationships that ran deep. She longed for space and time to nurture those things for which she was so hungry.
I look around and within and see those same longings. It does not surprise me that they are easy to find in our world today, because everything Kristin says about the state of things is true. It also doesn’t surprise me, because we have been created for connection, for love, for relationship, for community. When we don’t have those things we suffer. God created us out of love for love. We are not meant to live this life alone – to live this life disconnected – to live this life divided. We suffer and our world suffers when that is the norm. Just look at the headlines that come at us each day and you will find heaps upon heaps of evidence that supports this claim.
Kristin ended up putting a turquoise picnic table in her front yard and just invited her neighbors to gather around it. Nothing fancy or complicated. No intricate agendas or plans. Just a table and real people and honest conversation. Her one table has started a movement and now there are turquoise tables planted in front yards all over our country, inviting people to stop for a minute, sit down, take a deep breath, and just be with one another for a little while.
We have a gorgeous front yard on our church’s grounds. We’ve got picnic tables a plenty. So last week, one of our members got a gallon of turquoise paint and hosted a painting party.
Now we have a grove of turquoise tables planted under a grove of those stretch-to-the-heavens-sized trees. The invitation is for anyone to stop, sit down, take a deep breath, and just be for a while. Invite a friend to meet you at the tables for a cup of coffee – welcome anyone who comes by while you are there. Stop. Sit. Connect. Breathe Deep. Get to Know. Be.
A couple of our members are planning to be at the turquoise tables on Wednesdays at 10:30am over the next six weeks. I plan to be there on Wednesdays at 6:30pm as well. I’ll be rushing with my youngest from soccer practice that ends at 6:15pm. Rushing and really looking forward to landing at the turquoise tables with my girl and myself so that we can stop, sit, connect, breathe deep, get to know, be.
The tables are yours – come gather in our front yard – all neighbors are welcome here!