Hospitality: Space for Seeing the Other
Dear Kaleid Ladies,
Memorial Day is on Monday, and so we attempt to switch our mindset toward summer. And yet, we have experienced precious few of the normal markers that signal the coming of a different season. So we pray that, as you enjoy your upcoming “long weekend,” (side note - are you just so excited to have a chance to stay home and spend time with family--wink, wink?!?) you will have a chance to notice the signs of summer and welcome God’s gracious invitation to perhaps turn toward something deeper or different. Even in the sameness.
We need markers. We need signals and guideposts in our lives. In creation, God offers sunrises, sunsets, weather patterns, and the cycles of trees and flowers to help us--both to remind us to linger and to remind us to move. As human beings, we do well when we have physical symbols pointing to and nurturing our soul-ish and spiritual realities.
And so we arrive at hospitality. This is our fourth practice of community and the way of “seeing the other” that is the physical marker allowing growth of trust and faithfulness into the fabric of relationships. Having journeyed through gratitude, and into promise keeping and truth telling, we come into the most tangible, the most physical expression of seeing the other. Hospitality. This practice is the one that facilitates the others, and it is only because of the space created by hospitality that the other three practices are able to breathe, grow, and take shape, over time, among people.
Most of us have mental images of hospitality--perhaps summer outdoor parties or lavish thanksgiving dinners come to mind. But today, we invite you to think of hospitality as a combination of three simple things: a space in time + an expression of welcome + a personal gift.
A space in time. Hospitality happens inside of time. Perhaps a child stumbles down the stairs in search of breakfast. Hospitality makes space for them to enter the kitchen with more than just a bowl, a spoon, and a cereal box. It makes space by pausing the hum of other activities to be with them, even for a short while. Hospitality is patient.
An expression of welcome. Hospitality extends an invitation. Something as simple as a gaze that lingers when we meet a guest, a space for listening after asking the perfunctory “how are you?” on a zoom call, or a side hug for the husband who is passing through. It reaches toward the other person to express openness and curiosity, free from agenda. Hospitality is gentle.
A personal gift. Hospitality makes room for authenticity. What gift do you offer most freely? Is it your words? A simple expression of beauty? Silence? Food or drink? Laughter? Often, the things that we offer most easily are the very things that others desperately need. Our offerings speak about who we really are, inviting what’s authentic in the other to come to the table, too. Hospitality is generous.
As we close today, we invite you into two practices.
Think ahead into your day. Imagine who you will be with, when you will be with them, and what you might have to offer them. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you a picture of what it will look like to reach toward that person with a space of time, an expression of welcome, and a personal gift. Later, come back to that exchange and review it with God. What did you notice about God’s presence? About your own presence? About the presence of the other person? Ask the Holy Spirit to nurture any seeds of life that were planted in you through that experience.
Receiving God’s Hospitality
Sit quietly with God. Let yourself rest in the moment and connect with where you are, in terms of your sense of welcome before God. As you consider your day, where might God be offering you the grace of needed time, of His patient spaciousness in the midst of your busyness? Where might God be offering you an expression of gentle welcome, as ponder spaces that usually seem hard or unfruitful? Finally, where might God be offering you a tangible gift--an expression of authentic, even physical, care--that will generously encourage you to be more fully yourself in your own life? After you identify expressions of God’s hospitality, open your hands and intentionally welcome them as gracious gifts from your loving Creator.
We are grateful for you! You are loved.
The Kaleid Team