Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Hospitality (02/07/05)
TITLE: Clean and Cold
By Karen Deikun
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Glancing at the clock, I shifted into panic mode. “Get dressed!” my mind screamed at me. A resigned look in my sparkling bathroom mirror showed that my hair was not going to cooperate. I sighed, then rushed to the next item on the list: Set the table. As I looked over my spotless kitchen my mind suddenly tumbled backward in time and I remembered standing in another “spotless” kitchen.
The kitchen was so clean because it was completely empty. It was in the house at 32 Westwood Lane where I, as a very new Christian, was often welcomed into the busy life of the family there. With five children and a husband, my friend Lorraine didn’t have time to have a spotless house. However, at every opportunity, she invited me to be part of her family. In that kitchen I had eaten my first “whopper”. I had tried the complex flavors of Middle Eastern Cuisine for the first time. I’d gotten spaghetti all over a new white blouse there – but no matter – I was one of them. It was no big deal.
I watched this wonderful family live out their Christian faith in front of me in a casual, family oriented atmosphere. I loved their house. I thought it was the most beautiful place on earth, and I was so happy to be with them. And then - I found out that they had to move.
I was alone in their kitchen doing one final favor – waiting for the real estate agent to come for the key. The furniture was gone. The people were gone. I was struck by the complete emptiness in the house. When my friends went out the door to catch their plane, the personality of this home had gone with them.
They had shown me real hospitality. They’d made me part of their lives. I realized that what I was now trying to do was entertain. I had spent the day cleaning and polishing so that others would comment on how nice my house looked. But I had forgotten to be concerned about the character of my home and how my guests would feel. Would they be relaxed and comfortable in my house? How could they, when I didn’t feel at home myself? Remembering the long talks I’d shared with Lorraine and her family, the ease of being open and honest with them, and the joy of talking about my new faith, I knew I wasn’t making those experiences available to people in my home.
A picture filed my mind of a home with a welcoming, wide-open door. It might be a little messy, but it would be a place where people would talk of their faith, their problems, and their joys. What a wonderful picture! I paused to pray. “Lord, help me to make these friends feel at home today.” I vowed that I would move from “entertaining” to “hospitality” that very afternoon.
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