Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it. Hebrews 13:2
Opus Verbi viriditas / The work of the Word is greenness ~ Hildegard of Bingen
There were lots of choices at this fish fry: salad or coleslaw, fish or pizza, bake potato, rice pilaf or fries. The serving size was healthy. I had the coleslaw, fish and bake potato. The fresh perch tasted wonderful. It was lightly breaded, fried and very tender on the inside. The coleslaw, I couldn’t get what the secret ingredient was – fresh onion and? The “and” didn’t work for me. We talked to the family across from us. The coleslaw wasn’t working for them either. T had the rice pilaf and he said it was very good. Z told me the steak fries were “steak fries” and added “awkward sounds come from the tartar squirt bottle.” He demonstrated.
Homemade desserts - Yum. This really says it all. There is nothing like going to a church function and getting a tasty goodie made from someone’s oven. I had a classic Lemon Bundt Cake. Each bite was filled with a sunny lemony goodness. The cake was light and moist inside a crunchy exterior. Both T and Z said they picked well too.
“Hosts need to feel at home in their own houses, creating free and fearless places for unexpected visitors. Hospitality is the ability to pay attention to guests (concentration) and create an empty space where the guests can find their own souls (community). For Nouwen this is real healing ministry because it takes away the illusion that wholeness can simply be given by one to another. It does not remove the loneliness and pain of the other but invites them to recognize their loneliness on a level where it can be shared.” ~ Michael Ford, Wounded Prophet
The family across from us left and a woman in a turquoise fish T-shirt began cleaning the table. She was very nice and friendly. She was what I’d expected coming into this spiritual setting. Wiping down the table, she began telling us the history of this 50 year fish fry. She pointed to two little girls playing behind us. “It was started by their great grandfathers.” Apparently, they were fishing up at Lake Erie and came up with the idea. She knew that it was fresh perch, soaked in milk and breaded with secret ingredients. She told us about when the fish fry was down in the church basement. It was cozy and a little cramp. We told her we’d eaten here before in the basement. I remember the spirit present there in that intimate space that drew people together.
I began to wonder if the newness of this space influenced the “guest like” vs. “home like” feeling. Hildegard draws us to look greenness; perhaps in this space, the spirit is a tender shoot just poking up above the ground. The gardeners may not be used to this space and maybe a little intimidated by its vastness. It just needs some water and care to get that feeling going here.
During my Lenten journey, I’m called to look at guest like places. I speak of my emotions and ideas that I’ve hidden behind doors refusing to weed, water and nurture. These have become dried places that aren’t hospitable to me or anyone. It’s Lent and I’m once again called to drag out the gardening hoe to mix in compose with that drought like soil. My Lenten journey also calls me to begin to dismantle how I distance myself from others or how I make them feel excluded from the table filled with all the fixings. It encourages the “Viriditas” spirit of welcome within me by looking into the eyes and hospitality of a stranger. Lent calls me to green up spaces in my life as John O’Donohue says “smiles like flowers on the altar of the heart.”