Sunday, December 14, 2008

Twelve Gifts: #6 ROOM in the INN (Entertaining Angels)

We arrived on the scene in Los Angeles homeless and jobless. We weren’t being utterly foolish. We had both a job and a home lined up -- managing an apartment complex in the San Fernando Valley. But when we arrived in L.A. and called to pick up the key, we got the unbelievable news that they’d sold the building right out from under us while we were on our honeymoon. Welcome to L.A.! The battles there are far-flung and hard won, as we were beginning to discover. But thankfully, we were not friendless.

Jeff called some friends from church, and they invited us to stay in their back bedroom, rent free, until we could find an apartment. I came down with a flu that first night and was in bed with a high fever for most of that first week. Our hosts didn't seem to mind at all, made us feel completely welcome and comfortable. In fact, our first apartment was a studio space that opened up in their complex. Thanks to Dave and Elizabeth, we didn’t have to spend our first two weeks in Los Angeles without a home. They were good to us, and we were very grateful.

. . . . . . . .

A couple of months ago we had the opportunity to open up our own little inn to some road-weary travelers. Jeff's cousin (who we'd barely crossed paths with a time or two in the past twenty years) needed a place to stay, and for who knows how long? But it felt like the right thing to open our doors, and our hearts, to this virtual stranger. A few days turned into a few weeks, and the inn remained open. The amazing thing is, after a few days I’m usually more than ready to see our house guests on their way. But this cousin was different. She was here, off and on, for about six weeks, and I was actually sad to see her leave last weekend. My office doubles as our guest room, and I often have a hard time giving up that space, and that computer, even for a night or two. But somehow I was completely content to be displaced. Hardly noticed any inconvenience. (As many of you may have noticed, the blog went dormant. But even that didn’t seem to matter.)

This wonderful guest in our home, despite her own family crisis, quietly went behind the scenes looking for ways and places to serve. She and her daughter helped the children with their homework, folded loads of laundry, cleaned out the food storage room, replaced the lights in the master bathroom, helped fix the kitchen sink, assembled my new drawing table...the list goes on and on. Somehow, too, she captured just the right balance of spending time with us without ever getting in the way. She didn’t expect us to babysit or entertain her, yet was always willing to engage if we wanted company or needed a listening ear. Normally, I expect houseguests to bring with them a certain amount of chaos, but this one brought calmness in her wake.

Initially I thought we were doing them this huge favor, letting them stay with us for an indefinite amount of time, but it ended up being such a gift to our family in ways I never imagined. The renewed friendship. The calming influence. The quiet determination to help out. The laughter, understanding and love. Just amazing.

I couldn’t help but be reminded of that night in Bethlehem when Mary and Joseph were looking for a place to stay. Turned down by countless others, the weary couple finally settled in a stable for that night of all nights. I’m sure at first the Innkeeper thought he was doing them a favor, letting them spend the night in his stable, but can you imagine the blessing it would have been to house the Christ child, the Holy Family, even for one night? I’m sure the stable-owner was blessed in ways far and above the little manger he offered the weary wanderers: The light. The spirit. The miracles. The love.

I keep thinking about our lovely guests, and how very Christlike they were in the way they occupied a space in our home, and what an unexpected blessing it’s been to have them here. It makes me want to recommit to make more room, both in my home and my heart, for the Savior. Every day. Because I realize now that making room in the inn is not just a gift we provide, it’s also, in the very act, a gift we receive. And it’s one of my favorites.

Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. (Heb. 13: 2)

8 comments:

Brillig said...

I'm not sure why this post has me in tears, but it does. So, so beautiful. I love the concept.

And I LOVE this series that you're doing! I can hardly wait for the next 6 gifts!

Kazzy said...

I know that your guests ended up being a blessing to you. That is soooo cool. They seemed very sweet.

I have always believed the "no room in the inn" part of the Christmas story to be metaphorical as well as literal, and I see you believe that too.

You are a terrific innkeeper!

Scribbit said...

LOL Do you know how many times I had to type that title to get it right? :) Then after reading the post it made perfect sense!

What a way to start things out--I suppose if you could have survived that first week or so of marriage you could survive anything.

Luisa Perkins said...

Lovely!

Heather of the EO said...

I wish we could all take turns living together for a bit, learning about each other and from each other. Helping each other out...
sigh.
I suppose that's why I love the blog community so much. I LOVE community.

And I love this post. I love the analogy of the stable and the blessing to the inn keeper. I had never really thought of it in that way. I love how you think!

Eowyn said...

What a fabulous post!

You are so great.

Heidi Ashworth said...

How did I miss this for five days? Something is wrong with my dashboard! I love this post. Thanks so much!

Mrs4444 said...

You know what I love about you? (Well, one thing.) You don't apologize if you don't post every day; it's calming. Your blog (like I'm guessing your home) is a peaceful place to stop by.

As for this post, I also love that you received these gifts and that you recognize them as such.