A Picnic Table

It was just a picnic table.

As a introverted college student, I needed my own space. Towards that end, I set a certain routine to my day–I went to bed much earlier than most and woke up when silence hadn’t been squandered. Everyday, nearly without fail, I arrived at the cafeteria and filled a cup with coffee and a touch of cappuccino to subside the bitterness. I stacked a cup of granola on top of my coffee and clutched my books, Bible and journal in the other arm.

Once down the stairs, I walked towards the door and pushed it open, hoping I wouldn’t loose all my granola in the process. And there just to the right of the door was the picnic table–dare I say, my picnic table.

I would sit down and face the pond with my back towards the building from which I just left. After fiddling with the annoying coffee cover, the kind that always causes you to burn your fingers and spill coffee everywhere, I would take my first sip and open my Bible.

I don’t remember it ever raining or snowing, although I know it must have. Instead, I remember the sun always shining. It rose from the other side of the pond, illuminating the fog. In the fall, the surrounding trees wore their red, yellow and orange leaves. In the winter, I wore my hat, gloves and coat while the pond wore it’s ice. And in the spring, the leaves renewed themselves with an affinity for green that surprised me every year. The scene showed up so consistently that I had no choice but to do so myself.
And God showed up, too.

I usually read 3 chapters from my Bible starting from wherever I left off the day before. Without fail, a verse or two or a phrase would leap from my eyes to my hand as I wrote it in my journal. I would reflect and then respond, writing out my prayers mixed of overwhelming gratitude and a daunting sense of the uncertainty each day would bring. It was a space where God felt as real as the pond sitting in front of me.

Time seemed to stop from 7:30 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. when my class would begin. The wooden frame I sat on grounded me. It was the benchmark for my day, a time when I would renew, refresh and regain. It provided a space for beauty, peace, stillness, silence and listening.

It was just a picnic table. But it was my daily foundation.

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