Archive for November, 2014

The Hospitality Story

So at church we were asked to write a short story about hospitality because our new pastor has this uncanny gift for remembering everyone’s skills, passions and talents and wants to include as many people into things as she can (don’t think I didn’t notice), and of course in my unmistakable, yet unintentional contrary way I wrote about the absence of hospitality.  Here is my story.

The Absence of Hospitality

I know I was supposed to write about hospitality.  And I swear I had one or two stories in my head ready to go but this one kept coming to me and after the persistent thought came for the fourth time in a week I was like, “Fine!  I’ll write the thing even if it doesn’t get used,” then I added furiously, “but it has to have an ending, you know.  It has to have a point.”  I implored to the sky.  I felt just a smile, a knowing smile and I gave back a frustrated sigh.

You see the problem with this story, other than it doesn’t exactly fit into the requested parameters,  is that it is not necessarily a story but a series of images with a story that grows up and around those images.

I had to have been four or five years old, just barely five anyway.  We had just recently moved into Navy Housing.  I remember the clean kitchen counter, the empty kitchen drawer, open and being filled.  I remember pulling the plastic Kool Aid pitcher out of a box and either my mother or an older cousin pouring the grape Kool Aid mix into it, the puffy purple cloud coming up, filling my nose and making me sneeze.  I remember the silver ring on the back of the package and pulling out the recently placed scissors, too sharp for me to use, to cut it out and the five year old satisfaction of seeing that Kool Aid ring around my finger.

There was this huge park behind my house and I was so excited to go out and play.  There was thick mud circling the merry-go-round with footprints pressed upon former footprints.  There were puddles under the swings and little balls of earth where the earthworms had come out and then jumped right back into the earth again.  The air was crisp but smelled like a patch of spring making a surprise appearance in the middle of winter.  On the merry-go-round, there was a little girl, about my age, wearing a pink spring jacket and purple rain boots.

I skipped up to her the way a young Navy child who has moved too many times in her short lifetime would and asked,  “Do you want to be friends?”

“No!” she screamed and ran off.

I made a few friends that day for it is hard to resist a sudden spring day wrapped in the middle of winter.  I made even more friends in the days following, and more still in the years after that.  I don’t have any ill feelings toward the girl, and yet I still remember that day.  The images, smells and sensations come up so very clear in my mind when an unexpected spring breeze brings its scent to me.

And I think.  Did Mary remember every sensation of that night?  Every “no,” every slammed door causing her to put her experiences to memory.  Years later did she remember the sound of gravel under her feet, the smells lingering in the air, the taste of wine on her lips?  Was every moment etched in her mind because the sting of rejection made it stay?

I remember the birth of my five children.  I remember holding each one in my arms but I don’t remember the smell of the day, whether it was warm or cold, and I admit that out of the five a few may be blurred together.  Mary would have gone on to have many more children.  It was expected in those days, but this birth, I believe, stayed with her.  This birth was the memory that turned into a tale that eventually became one simple Bible verse we hear every Christmas.

And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

                                                    Luke 2:7

The beginning of a story told over and over again that would eventually go to live on forever.  Sometimes negative things need to happen, to spur us on, hold us back a little or make the memories stay, so that the one, all important story, gets written.

There’s more to this story that I couldn’t let go.  I am connected to the written word, stories most of all.  Everything I write is true, if not written off my heart.  I didn’t necessarily know where this one was going.  I thought maybe I would talk about how bad things happen to bring about good things or something along those lines, but I stepped away, which I often do when I am writing, and after a perusal of my Bible and a little bit of rewriting in the shower that is what I came away with.

Later that night I saw the Bible open in my bathroom and I marveled.  I shook my head in amazement. He pulled me in.  I have mentioned before that while my concept of God was getting bigger I seemed to have lost my personal relationship with Him.  I noticed at my daughter’s youth group meeting, that I sort of helped out with, that I could write all the other parts of the prayer with specific details but I could not write “God I love you.”  I have also written that every time I pull away He is waiting there ready to spread his arms and take me back.  I have never, until right now, wrote that He pulled me to Him.  That He sent out a lifeline, tossed it my way and hoped I would grab hold and He used a story to do it.  So today I am grateful that He loves me even if I can’t say it back to Him.  Today I am grateful I’m a little closer to the end of my journey because that is what this is, MY journey.  I will find my way back to him but it won’t because someone told me what to believe, or told me how to behave or expected me to take everything written and spoken as fact it will be because I walked back to him straight up with a belief that was mine, a relationship that was real and a strength no one will ever be able to take away from me.

Today I am thankful…Happy Thanksgiving everybody.



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