Five years ago, I was inspired by Kristin Schell’s little film The Turquoise Table. The premise is that during her prayer time she would often ask God to help her connect with neighbours. Eventually, she had the idea of moving her picnic table out to the front yard, painting it a shocking turquoise, spending her quiet time there and inviting neighbours walking past to sit and visit over coffee. This led to many meaningful connections and triggered an international turquoise table movement.
Recently our daughter found us a used 8-foot picnic table for $50 and I knew it was time. After a light refinishing, sorry no turquoise, we now have picnic table. We live on a corner lot and strategically placed the table on the side yard for everyone to see and use.
A few days after placing the table, I was delighted to see an elderly couple from up the street sitting there for a rest on their walk. They spoke no English but with a lot of smiles and hand gestures it was understood that they were welcome, and they seemed delighted. Some days later our daughter baked an outrageously delicious cheesecake and announced that we’re going outside with cake and coffee to see who might join us. One neighbour did just that. It was a great evening and we chatted with so many people as they walked, offered them cake and just had fun. Many people that evening and since have asked me about the table and why it is there. They seem genuinely excited to know they are always welcome to use it if we are there or not and love the idea of connecting in our community around this old table.
After our evening of cheesecake, visiting and the first mosquito bites of the year, as our neighbour was leaving, he and I paused for a moment and he asked me a question which led to brief but meaningful exchange that I believe God used to open a door for further exploration. It is amazing what happens when we open space to be with people, to genuinely love them, listen to them and be ourselves with them.
Bob Baumann is a pastor in Kitchener, part of Forge Missional Training Network and was once introduced by a friend as “a humble man with much to be humble about”.