White dishes mark a table with perfection and purity, which is why most restaurants prefer them. White stands for pure, unblemished, and washed clean, giving those who eat from white plates a sense of pure and perfect food. Visually, too, the advantage of plain, whiteware dishes is clear--their smooth, polished edges frame food like a beautiful picture.
For me, the ritual of setting a table is as satisfying as eating a meal. Time is a luxury afforded the abbey table--time to arrange its dishes and flowers and time to enjoy the arrangement as a still life when it's not in use. I leave my table set on the chance that the disparate schedules at our house will converge and a common meal will actually happen.
In the meantime, my visual pleasures go uncounted while the sun's light shifts across my tranquil tabletop, kisses its porcelain and fabric surfaces, and casts translucent shadows on the walls of the room. Such a practice lifts my soul and relaxes my body; a ready table reassures me that all is well with the world.