No Place at the Table

“Hi, Mom.”  Ginny and the kids came pouring through the front door.  Excited to see their Grandma, the young boy and girl rushed over and wrapped their arms around her. Ginny moved into the kitchen where she placed two shopping bags on the counter.

“I picked up some dinner from Hunan Manor” said Ginny. “Kung Pao Chicken and Moo Shu Pork.  It should still be hot”  She went to the cabinet above the sink and pulled down two wine glasses.

“Now, Ginny” her mother said. ” I’ve told you not to keep bringing dinner. I like to cook.” The children had already run over to the television and turned it on.

“C’mon, Mom. You shouldn’t be cooking for us anymore.  Let us take care of  you now.”  Ginny rummaged through a drawer looking for a corkscrew.

“It’s in the drawer on the left” her mother said, just a little testily.  “How about Frank? Will he be coming?” Frank was Ginny’s younger brother.

“Mom, I’ve told you. Frank is not welcome. After the way he treated you? As far as I’m concerned, he’s just not part of the family”.  With a small pop, Ginny pulled the cork from the bottle. “Here, have a glass of wine. It’s one of your favorites.”

“Ginny, I don’t want any wine. I don’t want any of your Chinese food either.”

“What’s wrong, Mom? Are you sick?”

“Well, yes, I guess I am. Sick of this bad blood between you and  your brother. It has to end!”

End?!”  said Ginny.  “Mom, it will end when he admits he was wrong and asks you to forgive him. Then and only then, will it end.”

“But, Ginny, honey; I already have forgiven him. Long ago. Why can’t you?”

“Because it’s just not right!  For what he did, the way he acts…well, he has to pay, that’s all!  Now let’s stop arguing and let’s eat.”

Her mother sighed. ” Darling, I know you say you love me.  You visit me and bring me food and gifts, you provide me with the joy of my grandchildren.  And I love you very much. But if you can’t love Frank -my child and your brother –  then you don’t fully love me.  Nothing you can buy for me or do for me can ease that pain.  And until you have forgiven him, I cannot share my table with you.”

Mother, what are you saying?” Ginny stared at her mother in disbelief.

Her mother’s voice trembled and her eyes glistened. “Ginny,  I am asking you to take your food, leave my house and please don’t come back here again – not without your brother.


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  1. #1 by Steve B on March 12, 2009 - 11:42 am

    Interesting. I wrote something along those lines, albeit in a slightly less narrative way. Selfish pride and anger coming between us and God. I sensed a bit of that metaphor here. Good stuff.

    • #2 by Christian Beyer on March 12, 2009 - 12:36 pm

      Yes. In your post you quote Matthew;

      “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you,leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.

      That scripture was foremost in my mind here.

  2. #3 by netprophet on March 12, 2009 - 11:57 am

    To me Mom is trying to solve a problem with the family division between brother and sister but is now creating an even bigger division between siblings and herself along with the grandchildren? Maybe that’s why God suggests we not let the sun go down on our anger.

    • #4 by Christian Beyer on March 12, 2009 - 12:46 pm

      That occurred to me as well. But
      Grandma didn’t ask that she take the kids away (although that would seem to be likely, I still left it open for speculation). I think that is why most Grandmas probably would not take this hard line.

      Even so, if the daughter does not concede and chooses to stay away with the children, in defiance of her mother’s wish for reconciliation, as well as the realization that she is causing additional hurt for her mother as well as her children…. well, then she would be excercising her right to make this (poor) choice.

  3. #5 by FreetoBe on March 12, 2009 - 2:23 pm

    This is really an excellent reminder to all of us. I’ve been battling with anger and judgement lately, and this helps to refocus.

  4. #6 by logiopsychoambrosiaivorytowerpath on March 12, 2009 - 11:05 pm

    Is Chinese food sinful?

    • #7 by Christian Beyer on March 13, 2009 - 10:07 am

      At times, yes. Certainly the Hot Fish at PF Changs is so good that it must be sinful.

  5. #8 by Steve B on March 13, 2009 - 8:51 am

    I think it’s important to note that in this example, the son (Frank) had done soemthing to wrong the mother, and the daughter has made herself the surrogate here, being offended on behalf of the mother. It’s not like the son did something hateful to the daughter, and the mom is trying to coerce her into “getting over it” or make like it was no big deal.

    Here the mom is trying to convince the daughter to let go over her misplaced, self-righteous anger. She says that preserving the relationship is more important to her that.

    What she’s really trying to get the daughter to understand is that it is SHE that is breaking up the family, not Frank!

    She wants her children to reconcile, but they are (both?) too wrapped up in nursing their grievances to do it. And this hurts the mom much more than whatever the original slight may have been.

    How many times, in how many ways, does God word tell us to “love one another,” understanding that anything else damages the “family?”

    • #9 by Christian Beyer on March 13, 2009 - 10:14 am

      As far as I am concerned, you’ve hit the nail squarely on the head, Steve. That is exactly what I was trying to convey here.

      The daughter has usurped the mother’s responsibility here, projecting her own very human sense of justice in place of the mother’s more divine sense of grace. This is something we all tend to do with God.

  6. #10 by netprophet on March 13, 2009 - 1:33 pm

    Good! Thank you Steve. Now chris can move onto another subject such as “The Power of God vs. The Power of Man. 😉

  7. #11 by netprophet on March 13, 2009 - 1:34 pm

    Man = Religion

    • #12 by Christian Beyer on March 13, 2009 - 2:16 pm

      Uh…are you making a special request here, Net? Something that you’d like to discuss? If so, I’m always open to hosting a guest author now and then.

  8. #13 by logiopsychoambrosiaivorytowerpath on March 13, 2009 - 3:32 pm

    Whoa! You’re writing is so poignant.

    I can relate–having been on the outs with two of my brothers. Since the old days, one has died, and I made up with another. But the latter didn’t remember he was angry at me. What a waste of time.

    • #14 by Christian Beyer on March 13, 2009 - 3:50 pm

      Yeah. To this day my father and his younger brother have been estranged for exactly 50 years. My uncle and aunt had seven daughters (or something like that) and my parent’s first child was a boy (me) and apparently that was significant enough start bad blood brewing. Crazy. (of course I am the heir apparent to the family dynasty 😉 )

      Which reminds me again of the tendency for good Christian (in this case Roman Catholic) people to somehow place more value on males over females. In spite of all the talk of the exhaltation of motherhood.

  9. #15 by netprophet on March 14, 2009 - 12:21 am

    If you would like to discuss the Power of God as it relates to the power of religion I’d be honored to hear what your readers and you yourself think on the subject. Let me know and I’ll set it up with some opening dialog.
    Thanks for the offer. 🙂

    • #16 by Christian Beyer on March 19, 2009 - 12:26 pm

      Go for it. I’m a tad busy right now, not much time for writing. Let’s give it a shot.

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