For whatever reason, we find ourselves in seasons where a lot of the things we believe stop being the things that we do. ~Shauna Niequist.
In those simple opening lines from the stage over breakfast, tears fall like sweat dripping on the outside of my water goblet. I dab the corners of my eyes with the cloth napkin lying across my lap. Two close friends seated on either side pat my arms with compassion.
I wasn’t supposed to be at the Allume conference, my move to England was supposed to prevent it.
Two writing friends surprised me with the gift of a found ticket and another offered a place in her hotel room and then paid for my parking bill. They were living hospitality, the theme of the conference, long before anyone spoke about it from a pulpit.
This lengthy season of waiting has left us without income and is schooling us on the realities of poverty. It is humbling to admit mental negotiation over spending two dollars on a bottle of Pepsi when you are a middle class woman living in a nice house on the Atlantic.
Shauna put words to more than just our current waiting period to London but a decade long season of poverty in hospitality that was once our lifeline. The tears were shedding grief and making room for future hope.
Poverty is often noticeable to those with extraordinary spiritual eyes, those who see the sacred work of Jesus in the midst of what others often overlook as ordinary. And I long to be a see-er; a watchman on the wall waiting for glory to rise on the horizon.
If we say we are Christ followers but walk blind through life, passing by pain as careless bystanders, then we are captivated by mediocrity at the expense of conviction. And the Christ life is anything but mediocre.
At Allume, I witnessed the healing work of hospitality, not in a Pottery Barn house or around Martha Stewart tables but in the giving away of self, our most precious commodity.
Many of us have built lives in order to impress people but what we really want is to be loved. We mistake achievement, public affirmation and being impressive for what we really want which is love . . . . We long to be loved but we settle for being impressive.~Shauna Niequist
In connecting with strangers around tables, in hallways with authors, leaning against book tables with new acquaintances and seated on upholstered cubes in the lobby; strolling through the city on an intimate afternoon walk and in lunch lines greeting blog followers, the holy work of love’s welcome provides restoration.
And a glimpse of the miraculous in the way God connects people.
God’s hands were guiding my shoulders toward people with a UK connection.
A blog reader and I face timed with her best friend who happens to live in the same neighborhood as our future address in London.
A random introduction turned into an hour long conversation with a couple who once lived in London with heart strings still connected. When I learned that one of the speakers lives in Oxford, I introduced myself and learned that we share common friends in the UK and in my current hometown on the Atlantic.
Random? Probably not.
For four glorious days, I practice the sacrament of presence, recounting God’s faithfulness with many I met for the first time in the prayer room at Allume last year. And He redefines my poverty with wealth in hospitable relationships.
True hospitality is giving people a place to be when they would otherwise be alone. True hospitality is creating sacred space for God to move in us and through us. True hospitality is when people leave your home feeling better about themselves not better about you.~Shauna Niequist
Every day is a blank canvas for God to fill with His glorious handwriting that is our life story. May we be people of welcome and invitation with intersecting story lines for the glory of the Kingdom, for the sake of Christ.