The Shared Table has been strangely quiet lately. Not a single invitation to join me at the table, no Dainty Morsels, no recipes, not even a crumb of inspiration from me for the past two months.
Like the Chinese proverb says, "Talk doesn't cook rice." The truth is, there are times to write about hospitality and times to do hospitality. I’ve been doing hospitality (cooking rice) full time for two months. My youngest daughter and her family of five stayed with us for five weeks and now my twelve year old granddaughter is living with me. You’d think that would equate to plenty of blog material, and you’d be right, so why the silence?
I’m sure I’ll eventually write a motivating post filled with lots of practical advice about how to successfully host groups of people for an extended period, but I’m still recovering from the mountains of laundry, dishes, boots and mac n’ cheese. And the noise. You forget how noisy a family can be when you’re an empty nester.
It takes me a while to process things. My friend Kerry Graham would say I'm a 'post processor." In the meantime, some things I'm reading have helped me to begin:
"Hospitality challenges us to work through our attitudes toward property and possessions.”
Indeed. It’s hard to see Jesus in a child who just smashed scrambled eggs into the sofa. And how, exactly did the apple juice get on the ceiling? It's just stuff. Breathe, Sue; breathe.
"We are often encouraged to be careful about our financial security but practicing hospitality involves a certain recklessness.”
It’s tempting to wait until we have “all our ducks in a row” before we fling open the doors to hospitality. By the time our guests arrived, our ducks had already flown south for the winter. The needs exceeded both our financial and emotional resources, but every time the supply ran low, God opened his storehouse for us.
"A life of hospitality means a more continual interaction with others, and fewer opportunities to carefully project a “perfect image.”
The real me manifested every day around 5:30. With blood sugar crashing, the TV blaring, the dog chasing the cats (did I mention they brought two cats?)and kids practicing MMA in the kitchen while I tried to do a magic act on a pound of hamburger, June Cleaver made a hasty exit and the real me came out. She’s not pretty.
"For introverts especially (i.e., me) homes can be a sanctuary providing respite and relief from a tiring world.”
So what happens when you open the door and invite the world in? And they stay? Where is the respite when there’s very little time or place for my precious (read legalistic) “quiet time?” At such times one becomes acutely appreciative of even a minute spent with Jesus.
The bottom line, of course, is that it's much easier to write about hospitality than it is to practice it. I tend to do the "woulda', coulda' shoulda" routine on myself. Perfectionism is a harsh task-master. There’s another quote that comforts me at such times:
“Even the crudest hospitality can work miracles.”
THE LAST BITE:
Do you struggle with expectations when it comes to practicing hospitality? Stay tuned for an upcoming post about dealing with expectations!