I love to inhabit the place where people come to visit. Each week people come into my living room to sit and reflect on the places here the Holy has been apparent in their lives and what challenges have presented themselves. Each Thursday my granddaughter comes over after school to do homework, to create a new project, to snack on Doritos and catch up on conversation. And every so often, people come from far away to spend a night or two with our home as a base of operations. I am always in need of preparing the space for each visitor.
I have the memory of a bustling mother who hosted many in the homes she inhabited over the years. She with my father were, in their stateside missionary years, hosts for missionaries in transit from their fields of work abroad to their homes for furlough. The dinner table was long and set with many inexpensive dishes that fed a crowd. My father ferried people from train, plane and boat to the home and back again. Besides food and transportation, they were busy with helping find medical resources, shopping and assisting in making connections to the next points on the itinerary. All this was done in between the rhythm of daily prayers and ongoing helpful conversation.
Another icon of hospitality for me was my first spiritual director. Her home in my imagination was a Hobbit House–cozy, warm, and full of icons of Spirit, some classic, some personal signs of her own. More important than the place was her presence. She was always smiling and welcoming, and as we talked, for over 20 years, she brought to me an attentiveness, supported by an accumulated memory of who I was and where I had been. I was not just a generic guest, but I was a particular visitor, in that sacred moment and place, whose journey was worthy of all the time and listening the hour afforded.
As I turn into Holy Week this weekend, I am drawn to the occasions when Jesus was offered hospitality–the supper where his feet are anointed by a woman who did what she could; a Passover meal in an upper room, where he welcomed his beloved one by washing their feet; a sharing of a loaf of bread and a cup of wine, his icons of himself, given to those around the table. On each occasion, someone prepared the material of the meal and the place for eating it in readiness for the welcome. And in each, someone, Jesus, became the host in attending the the deep need of Spirit, for a sacred space and sacred moment in which to experience the Spirit.
In this Holy Week ahead of me, I would like to exercise hospitality of Spirit–by welcoming those who are brought to me, prepared for what they might need–a cold cup of water, a listening ear, a shelter from the storm. And I would like to offer my presence to each one–listening for words or no words, receiving their stories with Grace. I also ask for an awareness of how the Spirit is the container for each visit, and be able to have eyes to see and ears to see how the Spirit is moving and prodding and comforting each one. so that I can join that movement in grounding us in energy, imagination and Love.
The poet Rumi tells us, “This being human is a guest house. Every morning a new arrival…Welcome and entertain them all!…Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.”
I pray for an open door, an open ear and an open heart this Holy Week!