When I was a little girl one of my favourite places was under the dining room table. It was covered with a large tartan blanket that reached almost to the floor. Under the table I hid and, with my toys, created an imaginary world. It was a place of sanctuary when I was either avoiding going to bed, had got into trouble or the adults were shouting at each other! Sometimes it felt like I could be forgotten about completely if I stayed still and quiet enough while out of sight. I often craved company in my self imposed isolation, yet everyone seemed so busy and preoccupied it felt safer to keep my head down and make my own entertainment. Times of positive attention seemed few and far between. But as I look back now, I must have appeared quite happy and self sufficient. No-one’s to blame that sometimes my needs went unmet.
I think maybe I still resort to this means of escape and defence. Having made myself very visible by being quoted in the press or giving a talk, for example, my immediate reaction is to hide from the criticism and hostility that I imagine I have created. I will literally take to my bed, keep the curtains drawn and not answer the phone. Yet it is the very time when I most need the love and reassurance of those who know me best. In my vulnerability I retreat under the table, try not to disturb anyone for fear of further wrath and condemnation and then despair of ever feeling worthy of the time and attention of others. I became so exasperated in one of my counselling sessions recently, I actually said, “I am sick of living off scraps!”
It reminded me of Jesus’s encounter with the Syrophenician woman recorded in Mark 7:24-30. She begged Jesus to heal her sick child but his reply seems harsh and baffling. He responds to her desperation with, “First let the children eat all they want for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to dogs.” Undeterred by his rebuff she replies, “Lord, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” Taken aback he says, “For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter.”
This exchange requires a bit of explanation. In this culture Jews and Greeks did not mix. It was forbidden both by custom and law. Jesus came specifically to reveal God’s saving plan to the Jews. They were his mission and focus. But this foreign woman’s clever and courageous retort moved him sufficiently to grant her request. For her crumbs were enough.
I then came across this in the book ‘…And we will become a happy ending’ by Joe Manafo, “For 3 years he healed with crumbs that fell from the table. Widow’s son’s, Centurion’s servant’s, demoniacs foaming at the mouth. And sometimes there were so many crumbs, they need a bunch of baskets to pick up the leftovers.” Maybe then, for me, crumbs are enough.
“Jesus came to heal: physical ailments, empty stomachs, emotional wounds and sick souls. Jesus still heals: physical ailments, empty stomachs, emotional wounds and sick souls. If you are hungry for healing, There are still crumbs from the table.” (p.104) For you too, crumbs can be enough.