Each Saturday we focus on hospitality.
Offering hospitality is a means of engaging in common life.
Hospitality can range from the simple "Let's go out for coffee" to inviting guests to our homes for meals or extended stays. When we share our lives in these ways, even for a short time, we can gain some benefits of the common life -and we maintain communion.
However, like the disciples, we are an imperfect people. We each bring our fears, flaws, and foibles. We each bring our idiosyncrasies, insecurities, and irritations. Yet, we are children of the Spirit: we also bring (to some degree at least) charity, joy, peace, patience, goodness, long-suffering, fidelity, mildness, and chastity. Sometimes our times of hospitality will be difficult but despite this they will be times of joy!
Carol Shields novel, Larry's Party, ends with a dinner party. Larry, the bungling hero, has invited a motley group of persons for dinner. The guests include his former wives, his girlfriend, and an array of disparate individuals, each of whom is well equipped to illustrate all the virtues and sins in the world. The dinner involves banter, jealousy, and argument about politics, religion, and life. Old wounds raise their ugly heads and new wounds are created. People are reminded of past stupidities and infidelities, even as these are being washed clean by the celebration taking place. Food and wine get passed around and underneath it all, despite everything that has been wrong and is still wrong, there is a deep joy present. A small messianic banquet is taking place. Redemption is happening.
That's why we engage in hospitality!
But there's more! As we learn to share common life with the Friends and Members of the Wellspring Community we also prepare ourselves to share common life with total strangers with whom we don't share the understandings of the Community. We prepare ourselves to engage in small messianic banquets! Each time some of us extend hospitality to each other, we pledge to support each other in offering hospitality to strangers.
(With appreciation to Ronald Rohlheiser's wonderful book. The Holy Longing. (New York: Doubleday, 1999) from which all the above ideas (and many verbatim sentences) have been adapted or borrowed (pages 114-116, 120. 139-140).
"By all accounts David was a man of true kindness, dedicated to a life of service in the name of his Lord. Humane intervention characterised his dealings with all people - old and young, rich and poor, stranger and friend. At his death his community gathered in sorrow. As David lay dying, he reminded the people gathered that they were to follow his example, to care for one another in "the little things,"and those dying words have had a lasting impact on the Christians of Wales. As scholar, Patrick Thomas points out in a discussion of David's influence, "In any community apparently insignificant acts of habitual kindness and self forgetfulness which display a fundamental respect and love for others can generate stability, unity and wholeness."
From "Praying with Celtic Saints - Saint David of Wales" p.43.
Readings and Prayer
Ever gentle Christ, grant me the grace to pattern my life like yours,
that I may care for your creatures
and for my neighbours
with your tender care and mercy.
"Mary C. Earle and Sylvia Maddox - Praying with Celtic Saints.