Commanded to be Hospitable

the answer is still and again love

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Lord, when one of us hungers, make it our instinct to feed.

When one of us is displaced, make it our instinct to share our home.

– Common Prayer

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longer table

Priorities

Browsing a book store (a favorite pasttime) I came on this selection in a collection of poems by Robert Frost:

A Time to Talk

When a friend calls to me from the road

And slows his horse to a meaning walk,

I don’t stand still and look around

On all the hills I haven’t hoed,

And shout from where I am, What is it?

No, not as there is a time to talk.

I thrust my hoe in the mellow ground,

Blade-end up and five feet tall,

And plod:  I go up to the stone wall

For a friendly visit.

It pierced my heart.

How many times have I chosen to ignore a friend’s need for companionship-brushing past importantly as I pursued the day’s tasks?

I’ll get around to it when I have more time,” I think to myself.

And then one day there is no more time.  The friend I kept putting off has left this world for the next and I can’t retrieve the missed opportunities.

Nothing stings like words unsaid, hugs not given or love left bound in a heart instead of set free to bless another.

C.S. Lewis said:

“There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously – no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption.”

And I think I don’t have time?

Of all the souls born on this planet, Jesus had the most important work to do.

Yet He purposed to include people at every turn.

He healed the sick.  He spoke hope to the woman at the well and the woman caught in adultery.  He rebuked religious leaders who were more interested in burdening the faithful than guiding them to God.

Jesus walked everywhere-surely it would have been more EFFICIENT to let the Holy Spirit whisk Him from place to place as He did Phillip after speaking to the Ethiopian.

In walking, the Light of the World  was building relationship-He was speaking truth to the twelve who would be the foundation of His church.

And relationship takes time.  There is nothing instant about it.

It is clear from the life of Christ that after His Father, people were His priority.

Few of us will be called to great public tasks or lofty visionary ministry.  But each of us has been called to carry the light and life of our Saviour to every person we meet.

If we are to follow in the footsteps of our Master, then people must be our priority too.

So I will set aside my “to do” list when someone comes calling.  I will cross the street to meet that person I remember from school or church.  I’ll send a card to the sick relative and remind her that I love her and will pray for her recovery.

I won’t lock love in my heart and hoard it like gold.

I’ll shed it abroad so that it speaks courage to everyone I meet.

“Imagine what our real neighborhoods would be like if each of us offered, as a matter of course, just one kind word to another person.”
– Mr. Rogers

June Challenge: Five Favorite Foods

Day Five of Kathleen Duncan’s  June 1-30 challenge.

The prompt:  Share your five favorite foods or recipes.

I grew up in the South where Sunday dinner was delicious and church potlucks were prodigious.

If you were blessed to go to a church that had Fifth Sunday spreads, then you know what I mean.

On cement tables back of the church, good cooks pulled out all the stops and brought forth their most prized recipes for public consumption.

If you wanted a taste of Aunt Wilma’s cake or Aunt Mattie Lou’s beans, you had better be in the front of the line, because the best dishes were emptied fast.

So in honor of those warm memories, I share my five favorite church potluck foods:

Dessert First!  {One of the privileges of potlucks}

Banana Pudding-a southern staple, this creamy concoction is both beautiful and delicious. It often arrived to the buffet with a corner scooped out because someone HAD to taste it-just to make sure it was good.  

banana pudding

 

pound cake

Pound Cake-crunchy crust, moist inside and a perfect foil for fresh fruit or ice cream.  If you lived in a rural community it was made all the better wtih farm fresh egss, real butter and NEVER imitation vanilla.

 

Fried Chicken-before it was possible to pick up a box of chicken on almost any corner-good, iron skillet fried chicken was both an art and a treat.  Only the best cooks could manage to get the meat done, yet still moist and produce a crispy crust.

fried chicken

mac and cheese

Baked Macaroni and Cheese-full of cheesy goodness and oh, so different, than the stuff in the box! I’m sad that some children don’t even know it can be “homemade”.

 

Creamed Corn-fresh corn, picked and silked, then scalded and scraped from the cob.  Grandmama would pull a few bags from the freezer and cook them down in a pot with a little butter and salt.  You could taste summer and love in every bite.

creamed corn

 

I have fond memories of sitting on cement steps, swatting flies and eating delicious food surrounded by people I love.

I felt safe, protected, full and included.

My heart was assured that there would always be enough love, enough food and enough of everything to go around.

 

 

A Good Day

 

jm captain

 

Last Friday, my oldest son received his USAF captain’s bars.  True to form, his path to this new achievement was unique and memorable. I’m so very proud of him and of his commitment to excellence.

And that meant that he was leaving San Antonio and headed to Maxwell AFB for Commissioned Officer Training. So he was able to swing by home on Sunday!

 

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Sunday afternoon, my kids presented me with this beautiful “Family of Love” necklace for Mother’s Day.  It has all their names and birthstones so I can wear them close to my heart.  I love it!

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James Michael brought me flowers-lots of purple, my favorite color.

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And then we were joined by Joe and Seve, two of Dominic’s good friends from Law School. Joe surprised me with this amazing handmade plate from his recent travels to Turkey. I appreciate the love and support of these fellows and their ongoing commitment to remember Dominic and honor our family.

 

We had Robbie and Jonica over for supper with their new daughter.  I got to cuddle this sweet baby and be reminded that love still lives and life goes on.

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And no DeSimone adventure would be complete without an “emergency”.  While getting food ready and on the table, we discovered a minor plumbing problem that flooded the downstairs bathroom, the laundry area and into the garage (all downhill-literally and figuratively).

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So while we girls ate supper, the men worked at repairs.

Just like old times-one boy went in one direction, another went the other way and Julian manned the homefront.  Thankfully, they were able to get things back in working order sooner rather than later.  But not before I exhausted our supply of 24 full-sized “clean-up” towels that were washed in bleach the next day!

 

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The evening ended with lots of laughter and plenty of carbs.

And a rare opportunity for a group photo that had me surrounded by all my children within reach. (Thank you, Alison, for snapping the picture!)

We miss you, Dominic.

And we can never stand close enough to squeeze out the giant hole you’ve left.

But we are living like you lived-making the most of the moments-and loving each other.

boys

 

hospitality

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:

I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.’

Matthew 35:34-36 MSG

Our home has always been open.  My children knew they never had to worry about bringing a stray friend with them for a meal or a place to spend the night.

Even since losing Dominic we have continued to welcome others to our table and into our lives.

I’ve thought a great deal about how easy it would be to shut the door, climb into bed and hide from the world in my grief. And some days I have to do that to preserve my sanity.

But God has placed in me a desire to open wide the gates of my heart and to welcome friends and strangers as I walk this valley. Not only to listen to MY story, but to invite them to tell me THEIRS.  

As a follower of Christ I am commanded to extend hospitality. This can feel daunting if I imagine it looks like a clean house and serving beautiful food to large groups of people. But at its HEART hospitality is openness and simply providing a welcome and safe place for people to express themselves.

Displaying the pieces of my broken life for all to see, I can say, “Here–I am fragile and wounded and imperfect.  Your heart is safe with me.”

Grief has erased borders and unlocked doors.

It is teaching me we all need to be made welcome, we all need to be invited inside.  

 

“Hospitality means primarily the creation of free space where the stranger can enter and become a friend instead of an enemy. Hospitality is not to change people, but to offer them space where change can take place. It is not to bring men and women over to our side, but to offer freedom not disturbed by dividing lines.”

~Henri  Nouwen