by Sister Bonifatia Metzger
The kitchen table
It is very important for me to have conversations with the people where I live and work, and also with my sisters. At my kitchen table, I have often seen hardened and careworn faces lighten up, liberating tears being wiped away, cheerfulness return with a hearty laugh; there have also been moments of silence and sadness, of suffering and speechlessness which we had to endure.
The regulars' table in the restaurant
As a Franciscan Sister, quite deliberately, I visit the various pubs and restaurants in thevillage. There, and the regulars’ table, I meet the young and the old, the healthy and the sick, the respected and the marginalized. Here I learn all the village stories, I listen to the joys and the concerns of the people. Many of them no longer come to church, so we must go to them, meet them in their everyday lives.
Someone from the official church, in my case a sister, is no longer an unusual sight at the round table with the regulars: She is someone who listens, who takes the people seriously, who goes with them part of the way... someone who simply likes people. This sign of togetherness and solidarity is life-giving, it is a “joyful message.”
The altar table
Jesus sends us his ever-renewed invitation to join his table. During Mass, when bread and wine are brought to the altar, I very consciously put my “gifts” there as well: all the joys and concerns of the people whom I met and talked to. In this way I am connected with them and bring them all before God in my prayer.
At the kitchen table, at the altar table and at the round table in the restaurant, Christ is in our midst. He is there when we endure our powerlessness, when we forgive each other, when we uncomfortably commit to help the marginalized, when we move in solidarity, and when we celebrate life.