Advent Day 23: Hospitality …

There must be always remaining in every man’s life some
place for the singing of angels — some place for that
which in itself is breathlessly beautiful and by an
inherent prerogative, throwing all the rest of life into
a new and creative relatedness — something that gathers
up in itself all the freshets of experience from drab and
commonplace areas of living and glows in one bright
light of penetrating beauty and meaning — then passes.
The commonplace is shot through with new glory — old
burdens become lighter, deep and ancient wounds lose much
of their old, old hurting. A crown is placed over our
heads that for the rest of our lives we are trying to
grow tall enough to wear. Despite all the crassness of
life, despite all the hardness of life, despite all of the
harsh discords of life, life is saved
by the singing of angels.

— Howard Thurman from Deep Is the Hunger

 

Christmas offers a microcosm of what we are called to in the Christian life. These days invite us to attend to the stories that help us know where we came from and who we are. As we listen, we enter into the deep familiarity of the stories our tradition gives us. At the same time, these oh-so-familiar tales urge us to see how the Christmas narrative continues to unfold in our world, and to recognize when holy ones enter into our midst. They may come bearing good news of great joy, or in desperate need of hospitality, or offering a gift that only they could bring.
In this season, in any season, will we recognize them? Will we have the eyes to see how the story of the Incarnation—the tale of Emmanuel, God with us—continues to play out in places both foreign and familiar?

— Jan L. Richardson from Through the Advent Door

 

Red Brocade

The Arabs used to say,
When a stranger appears at your door,
feed him for three days
before asking who he is,
where he’s come from,
where he’s headed.
That way, he’ll have strength enough
to answer.
Or, by then you’ll be such good friends
you don’t care.

Let’s go back to that.
Rice? Pine nuts?
Here, take the red brocade pillow.
My child will serve water
to your horse.

No, I was not busy when you came!
I was not preparing to be busy.
That’s the armor everyone put on
at the end of the century
to pretend they had a purpose
in the world.

I refuse to be claimed.
Your plate is waiting.
We will snip fresh mint
into your tea.

— Naomi Shihab Nye from 19 Varieties of Gazelle (“Red Brocade”)

 

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