Sojourners for a Time.
20 May, 2010 § 1 Comment
Seeing as how I’ve been thinking a good deal lately about how exactly to go about joyfully setting into place habits, attitudes, and priorities right now that will eventually translate into a transformative method of lifelong, habitual practice, I very much appreciated this Annie Dillard gem I stumbled across earlier in the week:
“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”
It seems so simple, and yet the profundity of her observation is not lost me. I suspect she was not so much referring to the actual expenditure of cold funds (although that’s probably an applicable perspective as well) as she was commenting on the way in which we go about navigating the mundane of the daily routine, and how that bears greater significance for future resonance.
I would like to be someone who is characterized by approachability, hospitality, and graciousness, and yet these are all characteristics and actions that can not simply pop into existence overnight. Instead, it depends on a daily recognition of the vital immediacy of the now and requires a great clarity of purpose, purposefully slowing time down and gaining a greater self-awareness of why and for whom I do the things I do. A life ordered by grace and openness is incumbent upon a willingness to step outside of a myopic, me-driven perspective in which personal comfort or enjoyment is the greatest good, thereby making it possible to accurately view persons, possessions, and even schedules through a value-system that says, “I see you, I welcome you, I recognize your worth, I take joy in you, I affirm you, I come alongside of you” without, of course, straying into ascetic self-flagellation.
While hospitality is, I believe, a beautiful value cultivated and enriched through the passing of time, it is also built upon a simple readiness throughout quotidian events that makes others feel welcome and significant at any time, even in the middle of today’s events. Perhaps it is as simple as coming to a full stop along the sidewalk and making eye contact when offering the expected “heyhowarey’?” greeting to a fellow passerby – – or perhaps it is as tangible as saying “yes” without hesitation to that last-minute visitor wanting to crash on the rickety but much beloved sofa-bed for the weekend – – or perhaps it is even as elemental as open-handedly viewing all things, inanimate and otherwise, as a gift to be joyously shared with anyone who is willing to receive it.
More often than not, it seems as though the precedent or standard we are often told to strive for is one in which our home is just that: a safe, exclusive place in which we possessively surround ourselves with that which we most enjoy. And don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of transforming your living environment into a warm place that reflects your personality in such a tangible manner! however, I am also enthralled with the notion that I can approach my favorite set of cerulean ceramic mugs, my most-paged through shelf of books, my brightly colored wall hangings, and even my hard-earned bank account figure with generosity and unconditional love towards others that is not dismayed by chipped handles, torn pages, or depleted funds. If giving you a warm meal tonight – – or being unhindered by a fear of broken possessions as your small children run through my cramped apartment this weekend – – or practicing a daily schedule that is accepting of your unexpected interruptions – – enables me to form a deeper, welcoming and affirmative relationship with you for years to come, then so be it.
“…They are only passing through the country.
At any moment they may receive the signal to move on.
Then they will strike tents,
leaving behind them all their worldly friends and connections,
and following only the voice of their Lord who calls…
They seek those things that are above, not the things that are on the earth.
For their true life is not yet made manifest,
but hidden with Christ in God. “
– – Dietrich Bonhoeffer on the role of Christians in today’s world
(Photo credit: “Ride,” 618 Studios)