Tuesday, July 18, 2006

On Hospitality

A Reflection

Jesus talks to me in stories because I am, like his old friends around Galilee, a little slow on the uptake.

“Sit down,” he says and I join him on the lawn under the cherry trees while pink petals flutter to the ground. He knows that I already know the image of how he’d like to gather us under wing like a mother hen, but that being raised in the suburbs, perhaps it’s not the best metaphor for me. So he tries it again with a different slant.

“Cathy,” he says, “God’s hospitality is like this––It’s like your 89 year old grandmother dying in her hospital bed, brittle as a baby chick, who pecked her way back to consciousness whenever a doctor, nurse, or chaplain entered the room, who opened her milky eyes and said with all the pride she could muster, ‘Have you met my granddaughter? She came all this way just to see me.’ And then, satisfied that the world knew how precious and beloved you are, she drifted back into the world between worlds.”

Then Jesus stands, brushes the blossoms from his hair and walks away. As he disappears from view, my first thought is that he is inordinately fond of poultry, but then I am left remembering my grandmother who actually did have a bantam hen in a corner of her San Fernando Valley yard when I was a little girl. Back then I visited her for a week every summer. She bought me the Lucky Charms cereal my mother never would, and took me to wondrous places like Griffith Observatory and Chatsworth Park.

I thought I had gone to my grandmother’s bedside to minister to her in her last days. Instead, just like always, I was welcomed, blessed, and made holy, gathered in by love’s hospitality.

First published in Voices and Silences newsletter of the Clergy/Diaconal Women in Ministry, California/Nevada Annual Conference, Spring 2006

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