When she was a teen, Kristin Schell traveled from the United States to France and lived there for a time. While there, her most powerful experience was “the ritual of sitting at the table.” During regular, lengthy meals filled with laughter and conversation, she felt included and affirmed.
Years later, as a busy wife and mother, often too frazzled to take time for her neighbors, Schell prayed that God would show her how she could love them and foster authentic relationships with them. God answered her prayer by leading her to place a brightly painted turquoise picnic table on her front yard and to regularly spend time there, being open to interaction with anyone who came by.
Schell admits she had been trying too hard to forge community by entertaining others in impressive ways when all she needed to do was be present to people, offering genuine hospitality by being a good listener. She says that for that to happen, she “needed a change of heart.” She asked herself, “Am I fully present? Are my motives for hosting self-serving or genuinely out of care, concern, and love? Am I more concerned with Kristin or with being an ambassador to the kingdom?”
Since Schell first placed a turquoise table on her front yard and wrote about her experience on social media, many others have also done so. Today, she says, Turquoise Tables can be found throughout the United States and in five countries. She encourages readers to become a part of the movement, but acknowledges that it might not be a fit for everyone. Still, she asserts, we can all do much to foster hospitality where we work, live, and play.
Besides Schell’s story,The Turquoise Table includes beautiful photographs, numerous recipes, ideas for turquoise table activities, and stories of others who joined the movement. (Thomas Nelson)