The Family Table Institute of Higher Learning

6 Jun


Sit down when you eat,

no matter what is happening,

out of respect for the plant,

the sun,

the rain that brought

you all here together at the table.

Civilize, purify your body,

your tongue,

your home,

by walking through this fire.

I am talking to myself,

not you, but please

listen in.

Though the ruckus at our table may make you fall out of your chair,

don’t pretend; it’s not like you haven’t heard

the word FUCK before.

Bow your head to this,

the smallest of things are given:


grain of rice,

a tear,

an apology unforeseen,

a smile.

Rough waters can calm to a gentle bath

with I’m sorry I spoke to you that way – yet

easy to miss

is the enormous turning

that has taken place within

for those words to ever be spoken.

Gather the smallest parts

of you

that you have flung away.

Sit down and eat together.

Remain through awkward silences;

wait out the shouting match;

the profanity, cruelty, fear,

see the pain beneath the anger;

hold tight, hold tongue,

and remain.

Miracles are often on the other side of hopelessness,

believe me,  only

micro moments on the other side;

you might as well be in a new

world now, one hidden and impossible

only a moment ago.

Peace is here,

if you have the courage to

sit still

when every part of you

wants to flee.



I was one of those moms who worked hard to soften her voice.  I have a driving force that longs for interactions to be lovely.  My learning has often had to come with some bold and ugly contrast to the soft and lovely shell to help bring me into the REAL.   And what is not to love about REAL.  We are hungry for truth, I think; well, I know I am.  And truth has the space to be whatever it is – it isn’t wrapping itself inside a packet for sale.  The stench of pain needs space to breath.

The life of the modern American teen is seasoned with raw and brutal information – I do see evidence of the Kali Yuga’s growing darkness since the time of my teen years and I do not often know how to help my girls navigate these waters.  Giving space for the truth of their feelings and experience often looks a bit intense and ugly, to my tender eyes, at least.  But I have enjoyed a rawness I’ve seen in film for the reflection it offers back to me.

I love family scenes in movies.

Some are able to capture the grittiness that comes from the mashup of personalities that come to gather at the family table.   I embrace that stab at truth, for our world often just reflects to us the washed up, dressed up, keep a lid on it version of reality.  We need to see the underside of interaction, for in this shadowy version, we can see souls at work on the deeper threads and themes of growth – the intense growth that people have chosen in the experiences of family.

Walking through the ugly helps us get to the otherside, but denying the ugly, turning away – only  extends and increases the shadow.   The messy yuck of feelings, denied their voice, grow into demonic howls of torture.

I say, now after all these years, give messiness the floor when need be.  I will be a mom who shows up for the graduation, dressed appropriately, as long as I am also showing up for the pie throwing (turkey in the lap) at the dinner table later.

It takes courage to live  this life, full of personalities, suffering, imperfection, failure, the word fuck flying around the room in anger!   Squeeze the illusions of conflict, confusion, identity, jealousy, every flavor of your suffering, out of your being in the vice grip of the family table.  Walk away with a diploma from this Earth School.




14 Responses to “The Family Table Institute of Higher Learning”

  1. Andrea June 6, 2014 at 2:30 pm #

    I think I just might print, laminate, and frame this and make it the centerpiece at the kitchen table. Your insights into family life are so valuable to me, and I am glad to know I am not the only mom in the world with the word fuck in her life! 😊 love you momma!

    • marga t. June 6, 2014 at 8:45 pm #

      I still react sometimes to a word (fuck) that has changed in my lifetime in weight and meaning – working on the knee jerk left in me! Usually when things escalate around here it is because I am reacting – adding fuel – and when I am without the charge of the way I expect things to be instead of allowing, the tense moments dissipate into laughter. You give me such a gift, Andrea, to be real and open when you are real right back – sharing in life as it unfolds! Much love! 🙂

  2. S June 6, 2014 at 2:35 pm #

    Love the clips! Wish I had some clips from my crazy family dinners 🙂

    • marga t. June 6, 2014 at 8:46 pm #

      I wish you had taken notes – what an experience it would be to go back and look through your eyes, I bet! xo! m

  3. ptero9 June 6, 2014 at 3:27 pm #

    I’ll never forget the day that my mom and sister were fighting over something long forgotten now. My mother was really going through a terrible time after my father moved out, understandably. The slightest thing would set her off. My sister and I, both in our teens, were not very helpful I am afraid to say. But my mother too, was no help to herself and was becoming emotionally unstable and verbally abusive.

    As the argument intensified between my mother and sister, my sister went into the bathroom and locked the door. My mom continued to yell at her viciously from outside the door. I was standing a few feet away, monitoring the situation, but not taking sides. All of a sudden, I heard my sister say, sort of beneath her breath, but still audible, “fuck you.” It was the first time I remember hearing the f-bomb exchange between family members. I was surprised because my sister was usually able to remain silent during our mother’s crazier moments. My mother was so stunned by what she heard, she started yelling herself into an emotional frenzy. Not much happened, my mother was in tears, blaming our teenage behavior on my father for leaving her. But we kids new better. My parents marriage ended because of mutual needs to change life direction.

    I think there are times when strong, but rarely heard language is necessary, or at least appropriate. I was glad, in this case, that my sister stood up for herself because at the time our mother was a very difficult person to be around.

    Thanks for a very honest post Marga!


    • marga t. June 6, 2014 at 8:51 pm #

      Wow, what a tender sharing, Debra. I feel like I was there with you! I grew up in a time that the fuck off carried much weight – and it still has the power to surprise me – to great thrill of those wishing to push buttons. I think these words can draw powerful boundaries and attention to when these boundaries have been crossed. In your sharing, I find comfort that we all share these intense family scenes; though we don’t drag them out often, it helps us know how universal our experiences as humans in this world really are. xo!! marga

  4. Alison and Don June 6, 2014 at 4:26 pm #

    The only comment I can muster is thank you for the belly laugh at some of those film clips, esp the last one ROFL!

    • marga t. June 6, 2014 at 8:52 pm #

      I love that film, Home For the Holidays! I so appreciate that you were willing to laugh with me here, Alison! much love! m

  5. Michael June 6, 2014 at 11:36 pm #

    I tried valiantly but failed to find the scene from August: Osage County, the movie version, in which Chris Cooper takes a stand against meanness within an extended family. I’m bummed I couldn’t find it. That movie has some great scenes of a family struggling to come to grips with what is…

    You’re so right about not denying the ugly. I have never been one for conflict, and there is no greatness in emotional lashing out, but I have slowly come to learn how to catch glimpses of the holy in those moments. Emotions are like dominoes, and when a big one falls it trips switches all around, but if one can embrace the space, and see the depth behind the fury, it can be surreal and life-changing all at once. There is pent up brilliance behind every storm.

    This week I had a really interesting family experience I was thinking of writing about, so family must be in the air. I bought my sister a cross-country train ticket to visit my mother. Both of them live at the poverty line, and this couldn’t have happened without some help, but I asked another family member to help out with some travel/food money. Perhaps there I crossed a line. I didn’t mean to. Others felt I had been conned into pouring money down an age old manipulative drain. From one perspective this was a loving act. From another perspective I had been played like a fiddle. The furies were loose. Past wrongs and inculcated hurts. It is hard to see one member of a family lash out against another. So hard. What is right, in these rooms where the healing opportunity arrives disguised as vampires and vultures? Sometimes the root of these things is a pain that acts as a gatekeeper on what we feel we have to give. None of us wants to be manipulated. We have to be strong and set boundaries, no? Confusion comes with “looking back.”

    It helps to see that every action drew each person to the precipice of an old grievance. This is the unprecedented miracle all around us. A seeming drama is actually Love drawing a toxin out of an old wound. Each of us is presented with something entirely unique and individual to wrestle with. I think if we can look at our own feelings and reactions, and stop projecting on to those close to us, we can walk through the wall. Others have written about it, and it is profound to reflect upon… the idea that those family members with whom the fires erupt have given of themselves to enable the needed seeing to occur. It is possible… for the vultures to turn to doves before our eyes…

    How many times did Kevin Spacey get to throw the plate against the wall!? That must have been such a release!


    • marga t. June 7, 2014 at 12:58 pm #

      Oh Michael, such incredible depth and grace in this sharing! You put words to the alchemy in the human journey occurring when the poison is given a chance to turn to perfume – if we allow. And if we cannot, circumstances will return again and again – until we can. Vultures into doves, dragons into princesses, a realm for the lionhearted!

      After a brush with the other side of the veil (my sorta NDE), I became obsessed with reading near death experiences – and you bring a memory of one dynamic presented that seems to overlap a bit. One man in a near-death-experience was walking around our worldly realm with a spirit guide and they came across a homeless drunk man being scorned in the streets – and with his spiritual lens, he could see that this drunk man was actually a highly evolved soul who had chosen this path to help others learn compassion. That which is easy to judge and condemn is not always what it seems. While still maintaining healthy boundaries, I often think of this story, and realize that others who seem so irresponsible and/or manipulative may be great teachers at the same time.

      Also you bring to mind the richness of the present moment and clean slate once the poison from the past has been expunged or turned. What a beautiful gifting all the way around your ticket and reaching out for assistance provided, even through the discomfort of the reactivity. PERFECT! (Easy for me to say from way down here in my own life flow:)

      August: Osage County – That painful poignant play/movie felt like living a whole life in a few hours to me in my viewing. So funny you bring it up, for I originally wanted to post the dinner scene – and couldn’t find it.

      Here’s to plates against the wall channelled by KS for release for all!

      • Michael June 7, 2014 at 10:01 pm #

        Your NDE research is exactly along the lines I was thinking. There is something beautiful about the realization that nothing is quite what it seems, and there is lurking behind it a whole lot of Beauty that keeps going beyond the horizon. In the same way, I think we often misinterpret what the “heat” of the moment is all about. In A Course in Miracles one of the lessons is along the lines of the fact that we are never angry for the reason(s) we think. That can be a challenging one to digest, but I find it so often to be the case in hindsight.

        I did find this one clip from August: Osage County. This will have to do I guess for the time being. 🙂

  6. Awareness ItSelf June 8, 2014 at 3:15 pm #

    Hello sister friend 🙂 I love the humour in the grit of our daily lives especially at the supper table.
    I came across this from Osho on the versatility of the word fuck – there are so many uses for this most interesting word…

    • marga t. June 8, 2014 at 6:28 pm #

      How marvelous! The timing and delivery of this stand up guru messenger was fucking golden! Sending Sunday afternoon peace to you my sister. I just want to lounge about like a lazy cat! 🙂 xo! m

      • Awareness ItSelf June 8, 2014 at 11:18 pm #

        Fucking hilarious! Enjoy the lazy day, and peace to you too on this lazy Sunday 🙂

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