Just made it home from a week-long family vacation in Wyoming… One full week, 12 people, no schedule! It was amazing time away, and I’m having a hard time readjusting to the real world. Sitting at my computer and trying to focus on work at 8:00 a.m. tomorrow morning will be difficult!
God was there in each instance we celebrated creation: in prairie sunsets, rainbows, wildflowers, cold streams and in the panoramic view on the top of a mountain. As you stand and observe this kind of beauty the existence of God is a certainty.
God was there in our connections with one another and with the people we met. We hiked in large and small groups on rocky trails. (Trails deceivingly marked as ‘easy’ in the guides, but quite challenging for us city folk!) The world is different when you hike. When you meet another person on the trail, you smile, you engage in conversation – more than a meaningless ‘Good morning.’ You actually help other people by providing tips about the trail you just completed, or by offering a hand to climb over a rock or tree limb. Hiking a trail instantly makes you community with total strangers.
On our first morning off the mountain, we stayed at a hotel to break up the trip home. I was walking near my mother-in-law into breakfast. She stopped and moved to the side to let an older woman pass first, a warm welcoming smile on her face. The woman was bewildered. “Do I know you?” she asked. She was so taken aback by the kindness offered by my mother-in-law, a stranger, that she assumed it was too good to be true. It made me sad for the kindness the world is missing; it made me nostalgic for the hospitality we left on the trails.
We have this decor on the wall in our dining room. I liked the style, it matched the kitchen. The verse was nice, but it had not yet carried any special meaning with me.
“Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” Hebrews 13:2 (NIV)
As I pondered late this week our society’s failure at showing hospitality to one another, a pastor friend of an acquaintance (a stranger to me) shared on Facebook that the Greek words for love of sister/brother (mutual love within a group or community) and love of stranger (hospitality) have the same root. In Christianity, as exampled by this verse from Hebrews, these two acts are linked – we are called to love friend, family and stranger alike.
We are called to experience and share God’s love for this world – out on the trails, on vacation, in our homes, at work, on the street, waiting in line at the grocery store – to all we encounter. I’ve left the trails, but I can – I must – bring that trail hospitality back to the real world.