Having the toilet separate from the actually bathing part of the bathroom is actually very smart… well done, Europe. But, I still don’t understand why those butt-washers are still a thing. So, now that we’ve gotten warmed up to each other… Cinque Terre, let’s talk about that. After our short time in Florence, we headed up and into the coast of Italy, where five little towns are sprinkled across the mountains, facing the mediterranean ocean. I don’t think there was any time spent outside of the water. Even when we tried the nightlife scene, jumping into the water always seemed to be the conclusion to our days there. How is it that the roughness of the Ocean’s character never ceases to be inviting, even almost loving to us? How it is that I always feel drawn to it, how my thoughts seem to be able to pause to let the waves make the noise, even after they are the ones to spit me back to shore with each attempt at friendship. It’s funny how this very setting was the place where God began to teach me about hospitality.
Whether I had the notion that “hospitality” dragged with it a connotation of pristinely set tables, perfectly planned schedules, and unwavering smiles, or whether the cultures I had been exposed to agreed with that defition of hospitality, either way… it was completely shredded up. Mostly, it was my heart that was shredded when I realized how I would rather have my nose planted in the dirt than expose my heart; to fight for the conservation of my heart and avoid vulnerability at all cost. How, I would rather set the table perfectly and make sure nothing went amiss, than say, “hey, come take a look at my heart.”
I sat on a bench in the train station of Cinque Terre when this gorgeous conviction tugged at my stubborn heart. Realizing that following God with just little old me was kind of only half of the equation. That opening up the doors to His Temple within me, my heart, to the Church, was also part of it.
So, sharing… Wait, look the wall, the symmetry about it, let’s talk about that instead.
In a world where rejection likes to leave bite marks very often, in a world where perfection is valued because it’s always more aesthetically pleasing, than a closet that is too sassy to take your clothes so they rearrange themselves all over the floor… or a struggling heart… Vulnerability, trusting, it’s more painful than leaving the training wheels and learning how to ride a bike.
But there’s nothing like jumping into the ocean with someone(s) by the hand and getting spit out together. To share the laughter from the belly that those waves tickled, or haul each other out when the tide is too high. Hospitality is opening up your heart to another person’s whole being. Understanding that peculiar mannerisms and uncomfortable stories lie underneath, and that there’s nothing more uncomfortable than sharing that…. And there’s also no healing like the reconciliation that happens within an individual and in a relationship when a home is built in the heart.
I fought being vulnerable, and often I still do. But I think this stretching has brought on new angles to what loving another is. And I’ve often heard that loving starts at home. So how about that whole residing in the heart of God? Let’s meet there, and laugh and cry together.