Primitive religion is not believed, it is danced!

Arthur Darby Nock

Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
And only he who sees takes off his shoes;
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.

Elizabeth Browning

Monday, December 17, 2012

Hostility to Hospitality

Henri Nouwen, in his book "Reaching Out" suggests that 
one of the main movements in the spiritual life
is the "movement by which our hostilities can be converted into hospitality"

I have thought a lot about the recent events in Connecticut
And I have decided, when thinking about it all
That hostility marks our age

It was hostility, a sense that one is surrounded by enemies
That, perhaps, drove Adam's mother to gather weapons
Hostility, that kept the mother and son isolated and alone
Hostility that drove Adam to his act of terror

Perhaps he felt he needed, for some reason to do the most horrendous thing possible
kill children.

I think of Herod, when I think of this.  This man who would be king 
who feared the enemy
who feared the child who might take away his power
and so murdered the innocents of Bethlehem

But I have been stuck just as powerfully by the hostility of 
those who are for guns
and those who are against guns
those who name call
and batter and abuse each others in the comment sections on the internet

so much violence
so much hate
us, them
the enemy

what if
what if
what if
we could transform the hostility into hospitality?
what if, sure of our ground
sure that we stand on holy ground
in the presence of the sacred

what if we could offer
if we could create
as people filled with god
and those oozing the sacred
in the form of hope, peace, joy and love

what if we could create "a free and friendly space"
a place where others could lay down their hostility
a place where light overwhelms the darkness of 
fear and hate
and banishes loneliness

what if.....

"Hospitality, therefore, means primarily the creation of a 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.  It is not to lead our neighbor into a corner where there are not alternatives left, but to open a wide spectrum of options for choice and commitment.  It is no an educated intimidation with good books, good stories and good works, but the liberation of fearful hearts so that words can find roots and bear ample fruit.  it is not a method of making our God and our way into the criteria of happiness, but the opening of an opportunity to others to find their God and their way.  The paradox of hospitality is that it wants to create emptiness.  Not a fearful emptiness but a friendly emptiness where strangers can enter and discover themselves as created free.  Free to sing their own songs, speak their own languages, dance their own dance...."   (Henri Nouwen,  "Reaching Out'  pp.71,72)

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