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Anne Pittinger

When asked about the principles that rule her life, Anne Pittinger responds without any hesitation that it's family , gratitude and faith. The Pennsylvania native is proud of the German and Irish heritage, but it's her deep connection to Irish culture, food, music and religious traditions that she's passionate about. By day, so to speak, she works as an executive at Mercy Health System, the rest of her time is all about being a wife, mother and a concerned citizen. Her ability as a writer has led her to closely observe her surroundings.

I pause as I stand in my dining room, sunlight streaming in the windows and dancing on the table. I am filled with memories of all of the tables in my life. If the kitchen is the heart of the home, the table is the soul. The table is where memories are made, lessons are learned, and the passage of time is witnessed.

For as long as I can remember, I have loved sitting at the table gathering with others to recount the day, to celebrate, to comfort and be comforted, to laugh and to play .. and to share a meal. Time at the table is about the power of story, which is the power to connect, reveal and teach. I see my life journey in the tables that have shaped me with the gift of faith, the gift of family, and the gift of friendship.

In elementary school, I never minded that serving Mass was for boys. I was a sacristan: I laid out the priest's vestments and prepared the altar for Mass and Benediction. Now, as a lector, each time I carry the Book of the Word to the altar it is a homecoming. I see that timid 8th grader placing the Monstrance for Benediction. I see the fifty-five year old woman walking toward the altar with a grateful heart for the gift of faith.

Gathering around the table taught me the importance of presence, of being for one another and of being in the moment. Who I am is rooted in the experience of the table whether my Dad's serenity, my Mom's curiosity, my brother's adventures, my sister's love, my cousins' encouragement, my husband's tenderness, or my son's wonder.

When my husband and son came into my life, I'd often begin a meal with 'tell me a story' as a way for us to create our own stories.. When my son wrote about time at our dining room table for his college essay, I knew I passed on the power of the table and the power of story to him.

Being at table taught me the importance of listening, of understanding, of forgiveness, of shelter, and of laughter. I cherish the simple pleasure of time with family and friends. So, this I believe: I believe in the table for its power to gather us in and to give us time to be together. The table taught me to live God centered, out loud, with love.