It has been more than we week since I wrote anything for the blog. I have been consumed with other matters, not the least of which has been getting immersed in the Lenten journey. We have a great Wednesday evening Justice Series at the church again this year. Last week we were treated to a presentation from Brooke White and three students from the University of Windsor who spoke very passionately about the work they undertook in New Orleans with Habitat for Humanity. It was a wonderful presentation and it highlighted the many problems that continue to exist in the city of New Orleans. The compassion and care that they have for these people is tremendous. I was very moved by the fact that so many young people (Over 30) would give up their spring break to go do something so good for others. It was very well done and I thank Brooke and her crew for coming and bringing our attention to a very importnat issue.
This Wednesday we will get to hear from Dean Jacobs from Walpole Island. Dean is the Director of the Walpole Island Heritage Centre and former Chief of the Walpole Island First Nation. Dean was Wallaceburg Chamber of Commerce’s Professional Business Person of the Year for 2004. He is a recipient of two honorary doctorate degrees and two eagle feathers. He will speak to us about Environmental Justice as it related to what is happening on Walpole Island with First Nations peoples. That too should be an exciting presentation. Plan on joining us.
I have reflecting for a bit these past few days on hospitality and I took up readings again, Radical Hospitality: Benedict’s way of Love. It is a great book and I encourage everyone to read it. There is a wonderful refection in that book entitled “Preparing a Table.” In it the author draws a very good comparison of preparing a table and the general act of hospitality. “In hospitality we work to make our entire existence a welcoming table, a place prepared for others to be at ease, to receive from us comfort and strength. Hospitality teaches me to work at becoming someone who is easy to be with, as either guest or host.” How true this is. There is something wonderful about being genuinely invited into another person’s existence and I must say that there is something wonderful about inviting others into my existence. It is too easy sometimes to keep others at bay. It becomes too easy to build walls around our vulnerable selves so that we might not get too close to the other, lest we get hurt in the process. When we allow this to happen in our lives, I believe that we get stale and bland. The excitement of life is really in the relationships and in making room for relationships in our lives. Last night we were grateful to a couple of dear friends for preparing a table, in their home and in their hearts. They certainly wanted us to be at ease, to be comforted and to be strengthened. I give thanks to them and to God for their goodness, love, and hospitality. It was good time and good communion and good companionship. We were the beneficiaries of radical hospitality.
This Lenten season perhaps we all need to reflect on what it means to invite the other in. Here is a little taste of what I have been reading and thinking about: –
We need to understand that those moments when we can break bread are golden opportunities to serve God and serve God’s people. “Every meal, like every encounter with a human being, has the potential to reveal God present in Creation.” The setting of a table is really important because we do not just set a place for a person to sit but we are “making room for one of God’s children.” We are making a space for “a human being and human beings are sacred.” All of this is important as we all are yearning for a sense of communion. Pratt writes that “A lifetime of ignoring the sounds of the soul have deafened us to this universal desire, but some little part of us can’t forget and waits eagerly for the moment bread is broken, a hand is given, a laugh fills the air, and then by chance or by grace, a connection to someone happens that magically opens us up in places we didn’t know existed.”
I know that inside of me there is a deep yearning for “the something more.” I know that some days life seems really plain and level. I know that I need companionship and I need the comfort that comes with breaking bread. I know that I enjoy life better when I invite others into my life even when that sometimes means I risk the hurt and pain that sometimes accompanies relationship. I know that I feel alive when others “set the table” for my presence; when I am invited into another’s life. I feel honoured when another treats me as if my presence is valuable and as if in our moments together, the divine is present. All of that being said, I know then that the Benedictine way of hospitality, of welcoming the other, of setting the table and preparing the feast is a sacred and holy way of life and is really something I should strive toward. We all can. We can all work to embrace a "RADICAL HOSPITALITY!"