From a Reader: thoughts on Gather at the Table

Posted October 2nd, 2013 by


As the paperback version of Gather at the Table is released this month (due out from Beacon Press on October 15), we want to share the following message that was recently sent to Sharon and me by Helen Nadler. A friend to us both, a distant cousin to Tom, Helen opened her Rhode Island home to us during part of our 27-state journey. Helen’s and Sharon’s dogs also enjoyed each others’ company…


Dear Sharon and Tom,

I have just closed GATHER AT THE TABLE. Thank you.

I congratulate you on making this book together, not an easy task, I am sure. You show us that difficulty so vividly. It makes our own difficulty when struggling to overcome anger, inability to bring up words that adequately express feelings, so palpable. Your honesty was a gift.

Sharon, you brought up in me, the whole issue of anger. I have so little anger in my life. I realize that most of that good fortune is because of my privileged life. You opened my eyes to the rage many feel, what that struggle is.

Tom, your willingness to quietly hold Sharon’s anger without getting defensive, was a model for us all. That is so hard to do and so necessary in the face of these historical facts.

And so much else! The way you organized the material, the great names you came up with for chapters, (The Recalcitrant Bat, Lizard Brain, etc.), the whole structure was great, putting your stories juxtaposed, the pace of the travel, the frustration of planning in the midst of busy lives.

And the conclusion, the importance of all of us coming to the table, hardly needed to be said, though a great ending. You showed us, your lessons were vivid, so the end of the book fell into place. “Traveler, there is no path, We make the path by walking”. Perfect.

You made a ripple in my pond. I will share this book, both physically and by word of mouth. And treasure the memory of my kitchen, with Sharon making risotto, us drinking wine, Nemo and Gracie circling each other. Come back!

Much love and safe travels,


We WILL, Helen! We will be back in your neck of the woods in February for more risotto and wine!


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