Reluctant Hospitality

Once upon a time, I was young.

I had all the degrees I wanted and a job with a good salary.

I was done travelling the world to find myself, and I was ready to put down roots.

So I bought a condo.

With two bedrooms and an “extra” sunroom, it felt just right.

I bought it from a couple with a toddler and another kid on the way.

And I thought at the time, “oh this will be perfect until I have two kids.”

I guess somewhere in the back of my mind, I imagined that I might do this in a more traditional way.

But really, I think I figured that meant, “it will be perfect forever.”

It’s hard to think ten years out when you are young.

Introvert that I am, I loved having my own space.  I still do.

But I knew when I bought it, that it wasn’t just for me.

It almost felt like a divine imperative.

Share with God’s people who are in need.  Practice hospitality.

(Romans 12:13)

My mom is the best hostess.  And my sister.

They are in their element with a crowd gathered around their table, chowing down on a delicious home-cooked meal.

I guess this is what I was imagining.

But I don’t really like to cook.

Or hang out in crowds at all.

And yet, in this season of affirmation, I am reminded of my own reluctant hospitality.

Over the past five years, my home has been “home” (for a few nights, a few weeks or forever) to five sweet babies that I love dearly.

It has been laid bare to countless resource home workers, children’s case workers, interns, CASA volunteers, transporters, lawyers, fire marshalls and health department inspectors.

I haven’t always welcomed this latter group with unabashed joy.

Really, I’m not sure that’s a thing.

Honestly, I’ve been surprised at how much it’s felt like an invasion of my privacy.

Maybe that’s the practice part of practicing hospitality.

But here’s what I know.

Five babies knew love and safety and songs about Jesus inside these walls.

And lots of other people got to see love walked out here.

Whether masquerading as snuggles or time-outs or a half-crazed mama insistent on the best for her babies, they got to see love.

I feel like I’m heading into a new season of life.

Maybe there will be potlucks.

Or maybe just conversation over a cup of decaf (I still don’t like crowds much).

But I want to keep practicing hospitality.

However that might look.

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Do you want to know the truth?

I feel a little raw tonight.

Vigilant and guarded.

Words meant to reassure sound hollow, tinny.

There is a difference between the “me too” spoken in compassion and the one spoken to placate.

I am not a fool.

And yet

Here I sit.

Chairs pulled up close to the cross, souls huddled around the broken body, spilled blood.

Here we are the same.

Desperately needy people with one hope.

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called…

(Ephesians 4: 4)

We will hear again the story, the pictures of Love past, present, future.

We will linger at the table of remembering.  We will wash feet in the now.  We will celebrate in anticipation of the day when all is made new.

I feel an urgency inside.

I want to skip to the end.

Tonight.  And always.

The redemption ache beats loud in my chest and I long so hard for the day when we don’t have to choose between unborn and born, between blue and black.

And I know again that that’s not how it works.

Not in this moment.  Not in all the rest.

We don’t get to skip the remembering.

We don’t get to skip the hard work of stooping to serve.

Stooping to love, with Love.

Even when we are raw and guarded, when the redemption ache throbs.

Chairs pulled up close to the cross, souls huddled around the broken body, spilled blood.

Here we are the same.

Here we remember together.

Here we serve together.

Here we know Love together.

Here we must, we get to live it all.