We do not presume to come to this thy Table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in the manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy Table.
-from the Prayer of Humble Access
We might pray this prayer; we might love to say, "Oh yes, I'm not worthy to even gather the crumbs from the Table." We might reflect with great piousness on how we mere humans are beggars as we discuss Jesus' love for the least of these, those whose life really was about gathering up the crumbs from others' lives.
We might intellectualize about it, but truthfully, we don't care much for beggars. We don't care much for realizing that we all have needs that we ourselves cannot meet. And we certainly don't care to admit that, at times, in all of our lives, we beg for the crumbs from someone's table because that's just where our souls are.
We like our pride. We like to claim self-sufficiency and a well-developed self-esteem and say we are filled with health and vigor spiritually and emotionally. Oh yes, doesn't that sound lovely, that we would never gather crumbs cast off by someone else.
But we do. We humans do gather crumbs, for many reasons. We might wake up one day and notice that the prideful part of our soul isn't the only voice speaking anymore. That voice that knows our deep needs, our woundedness (something else we humans aren't particularly happy at admitting we are, either), and we will find a way to salve that wound. So we sit on the floor, waiting for the crumbs someone more powerful than us in that moment casts towards us. And we scramble for them. They are often the crumbs of validation, of acceptance, even of love. We gather up every morsel and let someone else's leftovers fill our mouths and our souls as best as crumbs can. And we wait for more.
Lest we get too pitiful about ourselves, we should remember that for every crumb we gather, most of us are also sitting at the banquet table, casting our leftovers to someone else. It's one of those strange truths about life. We are beggars in some areas of our souls and wealthy in others.
But we don't like begging, do we? We don't like realizing sometimes whatever we need we can only get off the floor from under the table. God is with us under the table, sitting there as we devour the crumbs. And reminding us that when our wounds heal enough, we will stand up and look at those who have tossed us crumbs and perhaps join them at the table. Or perhaps find another banquet room. If someone does nothing more than throw you crumbs, when you are ready, you don't have to dine with them.
You just allow God to show you a place of your very own at the Table.