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What’s next? > Monasticism 2.0 > You’re Welcome

July 13, 2011

The third mark listed in  School(s) of Conversion: 12 Marks of the New Monasticism is:

3. Hospitality to the stranger

Without a doubt this is one of my favorite things about living in community and a practice that has been the most meaningful to me over the past 15 years. I love hospitality. I love creating spaces that help people encounter God and each other in ways that deepen them. I love the prep work of hosting; the planning, the decorating, the creation of a beautiful space. I love watching people connect with each other in these environments. And I even love the clean up and reminiscing that happens after the fact. I’m a hospitality junkie!

In our home we always have at least one guest room ready and available to receive guests. We have a value for being ready to welcome people at a moment’s notice. And we have had literally thousands of guests over the past 15 years. Some for a meal. Some overnight. Some for an extended stay. We’ve hosted world class authors and speakers, artists, homeless, addicted, college students, pastors, missionaries – sinners and saints of all varieties. We also have a large dinner table that seats 12 and is usually full and even overflowing for most dinner meals. Hospitality is a practice that we take seriously.

And its a practice that is well worn (in a good way) among individuals and intentional communities down through the ages from the early church to the monastics (especially Benedict who said to treat every guest as Christ) to more recent examples like Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker communities, JPUSA, Reba Place, Jubilee Partners… welcoming the stranger is a practice with some deep and wide roots in our tradition!

For me though there has been one “guest” that stands out above all others. She has literally changed our life. And through the welcome of our extended family, our community, and our household I believe we are changing hers. It’s our “lil T.” We adopted Tricy over 2 years ago now. I’m not sure I fully understood the depths (and there are probably more depths yet to explore!) of hospitality until we welcomed Tricy into our home and into our family. Adoption is probably the most justice-ful and meaningful form of hospitality I can imagine. It involves a group of people near and dear to God’s heart, orphans. For Tricy she got the bonus of not only getting a family but getting a community that deeply loves her… all of our kids did and this has been a gift beyond compare. It was evidenced last night when our whole household made a special pilgrimage to our kids swim meet. We were by far the loudest and most enthusiastic cheering section.

Another example of hospitality in our midst is the “Sustainable Faith.” So our extended community bought a Catholic church property years and the Brownhouse is the former rectory and Sustainable Faith is housed in the former convent right behind the Brownhouse and connected by a yard and lots of love! Dave and Jody who first invited us to live with them and their family in community have been the deepest of friends and like family to us not mention mentors at some of the most crucial junctures of my family’s lives. Now they welcome close to a thousand guests a year into their home many of whom are burned out are in need of serious break. They have a special gift for creating a space that really does give people room to refresh and come alive again via retreats and spiritual direction. They also have a huge heart for those involved in ministry (pastors, teachers, etc) and a unique ability to help them get restored and rejuvenated.

There is so much more to say but I need to wrap this up for now. I will likely do a series of posts just on this topic in the near future.

For now though if you want to explore it deeper I can recommend Christine Pohl’s book Making Room, Henri Nouwen’s Reaching Out, Jean Vanier’s Community and Growth and anything by or about Dorothy Day. I also did a talk on this topic that is archived here.

+++ Lord, thank you for welcoming us into your family and into your kingdom! Help me to extend that welcome in a variety of ways from giving a cup of water to creating spaces for hundreds or even thousands to know you better. Help me also to accept the hospitality and kindness of strangers as you taught us to do (Luke 10; Matthew 10). Open me today to see opportunities to give and receive your abundant life through hospitality. Amen. +++

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. July 13, 2011 12:46 pm

    And than you guys for being there for us – many of us. Of course I’m speaking particularly of me and my family. You have become family for us, and that house, another home, over the years. We’ve not been there often enough lately. We love you’all.

  2. July 13, 2011 1:23 pm

    Kev –

    Love this, especially the part about Lil T.

    I came across this quote a few months back (now one of my all-time faves) and I think it echo’s what you are saying

    ‎”The most radical hospitality expression that Christians can do is adoption. Radical hospitality is about inviting people into your home for life, and adoption is the greatest expression of that. It is not for everyone, but at the same time, everyone should have a serious conversation about it with God and see what He says.”. J.R. Briggs

    Love you guys,

    B

  3. D.G. permalink
    July 14, 2011 2:50 am

    I can’t even express to you and Go my gratitude and love for you and the Brown House! Ivefiund food and family there, and I desire to spend more time there! And I can echo your thoughts on Adoption! I love Grace more than I will even even know or understand myself. If we are to live into the hospitality of Christ I’m finding even now that as I delve deeper into relationships with co-workers, they are starting to realize my authentic care and love for them and I’m starting to see them
    Understand me as family as well! It is amazing and something Gid alone is developing! Hospitality is one aspect of my life that I have come to adore!

  4. July 18, 2011 11:06 am

    mnnnnnnnnnn,

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