A few weeks ago I heard as the Discovery Center we we are the ‘front door’ of Wycliffe. We are the first human contact that people have when they enter the physical plant. I have been mulling that over since I heard it and considering what people expect and then what they actually get. It also took my mind to hospitality. This is something I have let my mind settle on various times through the years. It is a spiritual gift but actually difficult to put into practice. You have to put yourself out there. It’s possible rejection but it’s also potential and acceptance.
About 12 years ago I purchased my first condo. I was about 23 or 24 years old and at the time rather awestruck that someone would think me so responsible as to expect me to pay for something over the next THIRTY years. But for their own reasons they did and in some flash of insight I realized that God must have some purpose for it so I figured I would just use it the best I could. I had fairly recently really committed myself to living out my own faith and it seemed natural that I would have people in the college and career group come over to hang out.
That first invitation ended with melted placemats and black smoke. (Who knew that gas stoves have the broiler where the drawer should be?!) The second one, a new grill that took ALL DAY to assemble in my living room (that stupid ignition button never did work). By the third I was getting the hang of it and getting hooked on having people over.
I kept having visitors until I sold the place and moved into a loft downtown in a pre-mid life crisis. Soon after I regained equilibrium, purchased another condo and moved back to the suburbs.
It wasn’t long before I started inviting people over with gusto. It wasn’t unheard of to pack 25 new, old and would be friends into my condo. People on the floor, in the hall, in the kitchen and on the patio, weather permitting. If ever I met someone new at group I would immediately hustle to get everyone over for at least coffee and dessert if not a full blown extravaganza complete with food, coffees and questions. I wrote so many questions to help facilitate dinner conversation that for my wedding shower they asked all the attendees to write a question for me to use and bound it into a book. Sometimes peoples answers amaze and sometimes my own sparked lasting friendship.
And the food, ah the food. It varied from straight up knock off recipes from Macaroni Grill to ethnic extravaganzas culled from my growing library of culinary writings on everything from high end salt or cheese to Spain, India and other far flung glimmers of life. It involved stacked desserts of brownies assembled into veritable Pisas filled with berries, chocolate and whipped marscarpone. Coffees made from at least 8 different types of machines or contraptions over the years. It’s almost reminiscent of a high school football star in his glory days because I certainly cannot imagine doing such things today. Was it even real or was it a dream? Sometimes I even let other people bring something and often let them help with the dishes.
Life is certainly different now. I got married, moved a few thousand miles, changed jobs, churches and states. I’ve had more people from Colorado in my home than Floridians in the last year and I certainly haven’t seen the ‘southern hospitality’ that I expected but I am sure that it’s out there, somewhere. I guess it’s a challenge. Game on.