Graham wrote an interesting post today that has caused me to think more about the whole vulnerability thing. In the post (go read first) called ‘welcome’ Graham outlines a typical scene that is no doubt common in many churches which causes him to ask ‘why’?
‘Why didn’t any of the hosts get up and make themselves vulnerable for the guests?’
“why didn’t I make myself vulnerable so that the guests were made to feel in the place of honour?’
I’m intrigued by the link that Graham is making between hospitality and the vulnerability of the host. Many new monastic communities, for example, speak of a radical hospitality. In the gathering we have used that very phrase … to show a radical hospitality towards those we come across. Its seems to me that after reading Graham’s words this type of hospitality may only be offered when we are willing to allow ourselves that vulnerability that allows the guest to be themselves and be accepted as themselves.
It’s easy to show hospitality to friends and people we know … basically those that we believe may well reciprocate the hospitality in some way. I would question whether that is really hospitality. But hospitality to the stranger who desperately needs help and who may stay a while and who we may never see again after they leave … that is a real genuine radical type of hospitality.
A hospitality where the host is willing to give up everything, to be totally vulnerable, so that the guest may feel welcome, accepted and feel ‘at home’ is a hospitality that calls to me in some whispering challenge. As I look over that last sentence I think of Eucharist … the host in complete vulnerability, arms wide in both submission and welcome … allowing all who need to, to be able to come, feed, be themselves, be at home and move on when ready.
Maybe there is something there of what Nouwen meant when he wrote:
“Hospitality means primarily the creation of free space where the stranger can enter and become a friend instead of an enemy. Hospitality is not to change people, but to offer them space where change can take place. It is not to bring men and women over to our side, but to offer freedom not disturbed by dividing lines.”
– Henri Nouwen, Reaching Out: The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life
I’m going to think more on this hospitality and vulnerability thing … there is more to think about … thanks Graham … and please, anyone, feel free to add your thoughts …