As I looked at the picture at the top of this page today, I had a flashing thought about family… You see, that table is an “heirloom.” (You might call it a “hand-me-down”…. or an “antique”… or something less friendly….)
It’s rather shabby, not very sturdy, and it takes up a lot more space than you’d think a little table would.
But I’m never getting rid of it! It belonged to my grandmother’s grandmother – generation 1.
My grandmother – generation 3 – painted it with the same paint she painted the floors in her house every few years. Usually a muddy brown.
When my father inherited it – generation 4 – he decided to strip away all the years of paint and find the wood beneath. Unfortunately it wasn’t very nice wood and he, too, painted it, although with a better quality of paint!
I got it – generation 5 – when my parents sold their home in the north and headed south permanently. And a few summers ago, I put a coat of white paint on it and hoped for the best.
No amount of paint can change the fact that it is a very old table, of not very fine quality wood. It does have wonderful turned legs but that just makes it hard to dust. There’s nothing remarkable about it at all.
But it belonged to my great, great, grandmother. Five generations have placed their books and candles and pictures on it… and who knows what else! I’m sure it held a dirty diaper or two, some beer bottles, maybe even an ashtray!
Like all tables, it’s meant to be used and it has lived its life and done its task very well!
As it holds those books for the Women’s Ministry certification program, I think about all the tables in those women’s lives, too. The tables that Hagar and Sarah sat around, that held food and wine for Huldah and Rahab, that probably held a diaper or two and some oil lamps for women like Rachel and Deborah and Hannah and Mary.
We have a family heirloom from them too – its all their stories, preserved for us, handed down through the generations… Doing their task and doing it well as they work for us in our time!
What have you been handed and how is it working for you?