I have a round table in my dining room. The other day, after Quaker Meeting, Friends sat around the table and shared refreshments. We laughed and talked easily, sharing stories, memories, and ideas while sipping hot tea and eating apple cake together. Later, I thought about these friends, some of whom have serious health problems, some who are elderly, some young, some my own age, each with a unique past and with current struggles of one kind or another. I'm not sure if I would have chosen these folks as my friends. All of us are a bit quirky, one might observe, and yet every week we gather together and enjoy familiar camaraderie despite, or perhaps because of, our differences.
This gathering reminded me of the parts of my own broader self, all sitting at the table with me. I have parts I'd previously rather not have invited to my table – you know those parts, the wounded parts, the superior parts, the dark self-loathing, and shameful, shadowy parts. Mostly, in the past, I'd rather only have hosted my most congenial parts, my lighthearted, loving, compassionate, articulate, funny, and spiritual parts. But if I leave out the fullness of who I am, if I don't invite all my parts to the table, I realize that I am really not all there -that I will have repressed uninvited components of me, and eclipsed what these parts may have to teach me. So now, I want to invite them all in. Because my table is round, none of these parts sit at the head of the table – none of them have a seat of power in the full gathering here. Sometimes in my life, I recognize that I had let a sorrowful part assume the head, when I wallowed in my grief. Another time, sadly, I let my spiritual head take rein, and ignored my own humanity. Now, in the candlelight from the center of the table, I wish for all these parts of me to be illuminated, and welcomed.