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Sunday, December 09, 2007

Welcome at My Table (Children Mentioned)

This is the tale the song wove.

If you wait long enough, the meaning becomes clear.

These are the words that kicked off the tale the song wove.

I've always loved the version of "The Welcome Table" arranged by Dan Zanes. I remember exactly where I was when I first heard it. I was returning to one of my location casualties for the first time. My brother sent the ChickieNob and Wolvog a copy of Catch That Train for the car ride and I spent the ride with my heart in my throat. It really doesn't matter sometimes if you finally have kids and they're in the backseat.

And this is the blog
that brought out the words

that kicked off the tale
the song wove.

I finally opened some mailing list emails tonight and discovered that Dan Zanes had started a blog and it was aptly titled The Welcome Table.

And this is the singer
who wrote the blog
that brought out the words
that kicked off the tale
the song wove.

We are a Dan Zanes family. We are also as of late a Michelle-Shocked-Liz-Phair-Pixies family too (the Wolvog choose our car music and you haven't lived until you've heard the ChickieNob warble "Polyester Bride") but Dan Zanes and Elvis Costello are the only two musicians loaded on the music phone that I'm expected to cough up whenever I'm not using it for a phone call (who am I kidding? I've used that phone exactly twice since I got it). It means a lot to me that he means a lot to them. His music has the lessons we're trying to teach to our children--sustainability, inclusivity, sensitivity.

The Wolvog was singing "The Welcome Table" as we walked through the mall (accompanied by an intense dance that didn't necessarily match with the tempo but included many side kicks and jumps) and we started talking about the song. What it meant and how we should treat other people and animals. It is emotional ahimsa; never making another person feel unwelcome, never turning your back. If you've read me for longer than an entry or two, you've probably figured out that inclusivity is an important theme in my life. I hope you have all felt welcome here. I hope no one has ever walked away from this blog with the sensation that they couldn't sit here or weren't welcome.

It's funny because I have such a strong sense of emotional ahimsa as it relates to others and such a poor sense of it for myself. I've spent more time barring myself from things than others have ever done to me. I think that was incredibly true during our first round of trying to conceive. For the longest time, I stood over here, watching "them"--those who could conceive and carry to term on their own. It wasn't until this time around that I really found the "us"--the 1050+ people on my blogroll and the thousands more who I haven't found yet. It makes for a very different experience.

And this is the tradition that soon was born
that came before the singer
who wrote the blog
that brought out the words
that kicked off the tale
the song wove.

Judaism has a running theme of cups. Kiddush cups for Shabbat, four glasses of wine for the seder, shot glasses to kick-off Simchat Torah (what? You don't do shots at your shul? Then you should come to mine). At Pesach, a cup is left on the table for Elijah. Pesach seemed the perfect holiday to borrow from--the bitter with the sweet. And the idea of waiting--we're always waiting for Elijah. That empty place setting, the door open. As a couple, we were waiting for this child who would deliver us out of...well, at the time I thought it would be the exit strategy from infertility. I had the "just one child" speech down pat.

And Pesach, of course, is the ultimate welcome table. It is the first welcome table by which all other welcome tables from Jesus to the deep South came. On Pesach, the stranger is invited inside; the person who has no place to go. It was the perfect marriage of my two needs--wanting to be welcome at the motherhood table and waiting for that child to come.

And this is the cup, striped and adorned
that we used for the tradition that soon was born
that came before the singer
who wrote the blog
that brought out the words
that kicked off the tale
the song wove.

During Shabbat, we added pomegranate juice in a stripey cup as well as a prayer. I thought I lost the words, even though we swore that we'd never stop saying them even after having a child, but the prayer resurfaced during the Great Basement Clean-up of '07. It was like finding an old friend from shul who you haven't seen since your Bat Mitzvah.

And this is the couple, both forlorn
that held the cup, striped and adorned
that drew comfort from the tradition that soon was born
that came before the singer
who wrote the blog
that brought out the words
that kicked off the tale
the song wove.

Obviously I'm sitting at the motherhood table, but I feel like I'm holding onto the edge of my plate while they're cleaning up, worried that I won't get seconds and not wanting to relinquish my plate because I'm still hungry. I don't know if others experiencing secondary IF feel the same way--staring at the other tablemates who are laughing easily while I try to figure out how I'm going to get a second chicken leg (and I don't even eat meat--that's the bizarre part of this analogy. But it seemed more apt than saying a second cucumber slice). It's not my tablemate's fault that I feel like this--I don't expect them to stop their easy laughter. They know how to ask for more food if they want it and they also know how to get dessert before eating their vegetables (I'm not even sure what that second part of the analogy means; don't feel badly if you don't either). It's a strange place to be, sitting at the motherhood table, but on the edge of my seat.

And this is the woman, who deeply mourned
she was part of the couple, both forlorn
that held the cup, striped and adorned
that drew comfort from the tradition that soon was born
that came before the singer
who wrote the blog
that brought out the words
that kicked off the tale
the song wove.

I've thought about bringing back out that prayer, starting it up again. We've replaced that ritual with a wish jar. Sometimes I wonder how many small rituals you can place on the table before it starts cracking under their weight. Perhaps less is more. Maybe that ritual belongs to another table.

So we return to the ukulele and horn
heard by the woman, who deeply mourned
and was part of the couple, both forlorn
that held the cup, striped and adorned
that drew comfort from the tradition that soon was born
that came before the singer
who wrote the blog
that brought out the words
that kicked off the tale
the song wove.

I never really knew why I liked that song so much until I clicked on Dan Zane's blog and saw the title and thought about the song. When I remembered the first Welcome Table, the seder space, and the welcome tables we long to sit at throughout life--the places we wish to sit and can't gain admission. How much easier we could make life for each other if we opened each space, and at the same time, knowing that we also need to be willing to take that seat if it's pulled out for us at the desired table.

And this is the tale the song wove.

Jack built a house--you would think the rest of us could be capable of setting a table.

10 comments:

nancy said...

Wonderful post miss mel (okay, so you aren't a miss, but we call everyone miss). I just wanted to tell you I'm holding onto my plate as well.

And also that we are a Dan Zanes family too. And I think if my E and your ChickieNob got together, they may very well know the same dance.

And also we are a flogging molly family. E sits in the back singing every word. A is singing the last word of every line trying to keep up. They are both rocking out as much as the tight straps of the carseat will allow them to. E asked her barbie "are you rocking out too?". I turn to smile at this dialog and E looks at me, gives me the "rocker hand" (thumb holding 2 middle fingers down, pinky and pointer up in rocker defiance), smiles and says "Rock On Mommy. I think I want to hear the white stripes next."

And when we get home and have dinner, that kind of exchange only makes me hold onto my plate even tighter.

Jen said...

You certainly manage to make me feel welcome here. I wonder sometimes how with 1050+ blogs on this site, you've managed to make me feel special.

Julia said...

Some tables are a lot easier to sit at than the others. Your table, for example, it's comfy here, and no need to look over your shoulder or to look around wondering whether they all think you are a fraud and should get the hell out. Unfortunately, not all tables are like that. So we congregate where we can actually enjoy the meal and the company. Because really, it's not just our imagination.
Can you tell I am a little grumpy today?

Sunny said...

Does your head feel like it is going to explode? Man you wrote a deep post. :) You are the most open and caring person I know. I hope you get seconds soon!

Searching said...

You gave me goosebumps and made me cry at the same time. Longing I can so understand. Here, at your house, we push all these different tables we sit at together and make one big Mel's Table. I like it here. You are a most wonderful hostess. Thank you for what you do for all of us each and every day. Thank you for YOU!

Hekateris said...

Mel, that was lovely.

Oro

Not on Fire said...

I had to delurk to tell you how your blog is a cool drink of water on a hot day. Thank you.

deanna said...

What a super-neat post!

I loved all the interwoven elements, and your poem was beautiful, too. It took two reads-through for everything to click, but it was well worth the effort.

Dianne/Flutter said...

Thank you for making your table, I've said it before but you are a wonderful gift. And I truly hope that you get your second piece.

B said...

Your post tugs at my heart, especially this sentence: "It's a strange place to be, sitting at the motherhood table, but on the edge of my seat."

I hope that the seat at your table is soon filled.