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Archive for April, 2012

Love beyond what I can fathom

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Some people to get to make the news

Some people to get to say what’s true

Everybody’s gotta find their own way through

But if you love Love, then Love loves you too

 

Some people get to fly by night

Some people get to shine a light

Everybody’s got to find their own way through

But if you love Love, then Love loves you too

 

Some of us hunger for the finer things

Some lust for power like the ancient kings

Some have to leave behind the things they thought they knew

some people don’t know how much trouble they can brew

 

Some take the burden of another’s pain

Some spend forever on a moment’s gain

Everybody’s gotta find their own way through

But if you love Love, then Love loves you too

– Bruce Cockburn

Today in our evening scripture and in my reading of new monasticism, I am reminded that I need to come to God. This is such an intense time in my life right now and I am filled with so many emotions. I described myself recently as feeling really “alive”. I think most of my life I dissociated a lot and never really felt feelings to the full. Now  I do. It’s a bit overwhelming because they are all coming at once. I love this Bruce Cockburn song as the message is so simple – if you love Love, then Love loves you too. So tonight, in the midst of all that I have been feeling today, I rest in the arms of love.

Tonight’s evening prayer time took us through looking at our day. To be honest, I’ve spent most of today crying. But as the day comes to a close, I am amazed at how God has and continues to provide for me. My grandpa’s sick and this news and the family dynamics are heartwrenching. So many people in my community have offered to get involved in the messiness of my family whether that be driving me up to see my grandpa, making the phone calls for me, or simply holding me as I cry. People have offered to take time off work. As I wrestle with anger, people have expressed their desire to stand up for me and to take the hits so to speak.

Last night in prayer there was a very touching moment from a member of our community who frequents our house. He has a form of schizophrenia and is known all around the city for his paper cutouts. They are indeed masterpieces and I can’t get my head around how he creates these amazing things! Ever since I was in the hospital, he has challenged me to face my mental health issues honestly and he seems to have found some comradarie in knowing that I understand, to a certain extent, some of the struggles that he has undergone in terms of dealing with a mental illness. Last night we were sharing stories and pictures and actually it was a very precious time and I am thankful for those moments. Then we joined one of my housemates for prayer.

When it came time for intercessory prayers, I prayed for my grandpa and the medical team. And I prayed that hearts would soften. Bob immediately looked at me and said, “Elizabeth, do you need someone to escort you to see your grandfather? Cause I would go with you.” I had tears in my eyes.

I have so many wonderful relationships in my life. My life is so full. And yes, this is an incredibly intense time and I am exhausted and worn. But God is providing for each step of the journey in more ways than I had imagined. He provides using people whom I least expect it from and in moments when I am not expecting.

And so tonight, I lay aside my hurt and frustration and anger and all the intensity of what I feel. And i rest. I rest in the arms of the One who loves me more than I can fathom.

Will you drink this cup?


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So this is a post I’ve been wanting to write since Holy Saturday (the day before Easter Sunday). We spent the day in silence here at Camino with a few breaks for prayer and a very simple soup lunch. It was quite an interesting experience to come from the Good Friday service into a day of silence. At the Good Friday service, we covered the cross with a black cloth and left in silence, with the grief and sullenness of the day very present. The silence continued on the Saturday was a very powerful time of experiencing the grief of the darkness of the crucifixion without rushing to the joy of the Resurrection.

But let me back up to what was going on in my life during the days leading up to Holy Saturday. A couple of good friends of mine were going through very difficult times. One particular friend who is very dear to me came to live with us for a few days. I think other than dealing with my own stuff, walking with my friend was one of the hardest things that I have done. It was beautiful and rewarding though which I don’t want to discount – there is something precious about seeing someone in their most honest moments. But I was challenged to sit with another’s pain, knowing that I was completely powerless to change the situation or to fix it. “Compassion” means to ‘suffer with’. I think my experience walking with my friend gave me a greater appreciation for those who have walked with me. Walking with the vulnerable and suffering is not easy. I remember the feeling in my gut in hearing bits of the story and the tears shed knowing that I could not help. I had a conversation with a fellow student about walking with the dying – you have to learn to sit with grief and pain, for you cannot offer to the one who is dying the hope that they will get better! And what about the one who has not made a profession of faith? I think I am a hopeful universalist in that I wonder if God works constantly so that even in our final breaths we turn to him, even if our entire lives before those last moments were not lived for him. But this is just what I want to believe, and not necessarily what is really the case.

While I recognized my privileged position in walking with my friend, I couldn’t help but think about the calling that I believe God has on my life. Every since I was 17, I have had the dream of opening my home to women and children who are leaving abusive situations. In walking with various people in my life who are going through all sorts of things, I have been coming to realize that I need to learn how to sit with another’s pain. I talked with my psychiatrist about this – he is nearing the end of his career and I wanted to know how he learned how to do this and to watch people like me leaving his office knowing how they were going to cope that night. He affirmed what I already knew – this comes through experience and not through textbooks. When I thought of the pain I carried, I told God that I wasn’t sure if I was up to this calling.

During Holy Saturday, I planned to read a book for school. But something didn’t seem right about taking a silent retreat to do homework. So I was drawn to a Henri Nouwen book “Can you drink this cup?”. I consumed the whole book and went on to more of Nouwen’s work. I was struck by how eagerly and enthusiastically Peter the Disciple claimed that he would follow Christ to the end. Actually, I love Peter. He was always so enthusiastic. He tried so hard! But when push came to shove, and his life was actually on the line, Peter did not live up to the words he claimed.

It got me thinking about how easy it is to say that I want to do God’s will. Several times a day my community prays the Lord’s Prayer – “Thy will be done”. It makes me think of a Steve Bell song “This is Love”. The setting for the song is Jesus in the Garden of Gathesemane praying for His disciples.

My prayer is not for only these alone, but for those who follow after I am gone.  May the understand the love you have for me, as the kind of love that changes everything. They’ll who will sit next to the throne. And I cringe to hear them say ‘Thy Kingdom come’. They think they know what they’re getting into. But we both know that they haven’t got a clue.

When I say yes to God and his calling on my life, I really don’t have a clue what I am saying yes to. In many ways I am thankful, for had I had forewarning, I am not sure I would have said yes to speaking the truth and walking in the light for all the costs that would ensue. But sometimes I get glimpses of God’s will in my life and I think about how Christ poured out his humanness that night in the garden as he shed tears of blood and asking God to take away the cup that He had prepared for him. Yet Christ drank the cup and drank it to the full. His cup was full of cruel suffering that I can only begin to imagine. His cup took Him to the cross, before the glory of the resurrection.

I think I want the resurrection without the cross. I want the joy of seeing lives transformed without the pain of sitting with them during the darkest nights. I want others to see me as compassionate and to be needed, without feeling the sorrow that leads me crying to my housemates or God in the pain of sheer helplessness.

But on Holy Saturday, through the silence of the day, I felt God’s gentle nudging and calling on my life. I was reminded of who God has made me to be, and the gifts that He has given me. I was reminded of the “aliveness” I feel when I am able to use my gifts in the relationships around me. I was reminded of how for 10 years, while the details of the call have changed, the call is still there and I am who I am most fully when I live into its calling, cross and all.

The day ended with a simple question that has had a profound effect on me: Will you drink this cup?

No Guaranties

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 Lately, I’ve been pretty intrigued by art as expression of emotion. I’ve been spending some of my free time searching for art and really contemplating them. I’m honestly quite ignorant when it comes to art, so maybe this Picasso painting is familiar to you. But this weeping woman really captured me and in so many ways depicts how I feel right now. Yesterday in one of the groups I began to cry. I’m not really one to cry. Very rarely do tears flow from my eyes. But yesterday I felt the pain so greatly that the tears came even though they were not a welcomed friend to me.

We were talking about death and sadness. And I was reminded of some very painful words my brother spoke to me in the late fall. He said that my mom has been saying that she will be dead within five years because of all the stress that I have caused her. As some of my readers will know, I have been in and out of the hospital a few times in the past months, totally 6 and a half weeks altogether. I tried so hard to figure out what had gone down to make things so very bad. And it wasn’t until near the end of my last hospital stay that I started to get a clearer picture. It was these words that my brother spoke that created an ache so deep within me that I cannot put fully into words. My mom turned 50 this year and has significant health risks for a heart attack. For seven years I have held on to the hope that we will be reconciled. But the problem is, there are no guarantees.

I believed with all my heart that I would be reconciled with my grandmother. About a week before her death, I was finally allowed to be told that she was dying and only on the condition that I would not contact her. I showed up to the funeral with a couple of beautiful roses and a card in which I had written my goodbyes. I laid them in the casket not knowing if my words would ever actually reach my grandmother  now that she has left this world. I believe in heaven and the new resurrection, but I believe without knowledge of what this is really like, whether earthly relationships matter once you see God Almighty in all His glory. All I knew was that I needed to say goodbye and that I loved my grandma. What a painful day that was. I talked in a recent post about feeling like I was a criminal. The day of the funeral, that feeling was so very real. I listened in shock as my Uncle read out the pallbearers and honorary pallbearers. Each family member was named. I was not.

My brother’s comment to me – whether true or not – hits hard at one of my deepest fears. What if my mom passes before we are reconciled? What if she has a heart attack and dies? I brought this to group and shared how I feel like I have taken my siblings father away from them, and maybe possibly their mother as well. I feel tremendous weight in all of this. I know with my head that it is not my fault. I know my dad will go to jail because of the crimes he has committed. I know that the stress on my mom’s life is ultimately because of the crimes my dad committed and the choices she has made since that came to light.

But if she died, would any of this head knowledge really matter?

My mom has made very hurtful choices since I left home. I honestly am only beginning to face this. But when all is said and done, she is my mom. And I love her. And I long deeply to have her a part of my life. I’ve been really sick with a bad cold this week which is only just beginning to fade away. But each day I came home from the group exhausted and worn, and feeling so sick. And my strongest desire was to have my mom make me a cup of tea and sit with me.

Tears well up in my eyes as I write this. So much has happened in the past seven years. So much has happened since I was a little girl in the pictures of my last post. There is so much denial on her part right now and so much anger and animosity towards me. I’m eager to get started on reconciliation. But the appeal documents that i was given recently show that nothing has changed in seven years. In the coming months, my dad will most likely go to jail which I am sure will bring a whole other layer of hurt onto my mom. And then maybe, she will face reality. But I have an advantage over her – I have been facing the reality of the abuse and its effects and all that has gone down since for seven years. I have broken many areas of denial. How long will it take for her to be ready to face the truth, to hear my story? And how long will it take to actually work towards reconciliation?

Is there enough time?

I weep, like the woman Picasso so masterfully paints, because there are no guarantees.

I was a child

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I have been reflecting a lot on my post from yesterday and my experiences in the past two days in the program. I have been struck by how strong the feelings of guilt and shame pervade my life even though I thought that I had overcome them both to a great degree. And I think the fact that I can sit here and write these posts about being in a trauma therapy program without fear of how people will react or what they will think of me demonstrates that I have indeed done a great deal of healing work in this area. 

I found these fun pictures in a box in my room this afternoon. I have many siblings (7 in fact), but these pictures capture me and my brother next in line. There are two and a half years between us and we are both from my Mom’s first marriage, while the other 6 are from my mom’s second marriage. I love my brother. But our relationship was like cats and dogs. I have to say though I was always quite talented at instigating trouble without getting caught. He was a little more obvious. On top of that, we had a “no tattletaling” rule in our house so he would often get in trouble for retaliating and then tattletaling! Poor kid. We did have our good times though and there were many times I would be excited to spend time with him. Like the times we stayed at my birthfather’s apartment and I wouldn’t be able to sleep and was bored, so I would plug his nose and cover his mouth until he had to wake up. Ingenious for a 7 year old I think 😉

Anyways, the reason why I went looking for pictures came out of something that was said in one of the groups today. One woman was particularly feeling the responsibility for something and one of the facilitators asked if she knew any children the age she once was. I got thinking about my own sense of guilt and shame and responsibility for what happened to me. I thought that looking at a picture of me when I was roughly that age would help reframe things in my mind. So I went searching for pictures. Sadly, I have very few pictures of me growing up – these pictures have been supplied by various relatives as none of them made it from my family’s home to my home. But I found this series of pictures, taken in one of those instant photo booths. I don’t know exactly how old I am in these pictures… I am guessing that I am 11 or so.

I do not have a start date engraved in my mind of when the abuse began. But it was sometime after our move to the house that we stayed in the longest and actually my family is still living there now. I was about 11 when we moved in, so if my age guessing is right, the pictures of me you see here are pictures taken roughly around when the abuse started.

When I saw these pictures, I was struck by how young I look. I was very clearly a child. So often I judge myself for how I handled the abuse then (or how I didn’t handle it) and I judge it with a harshness based on what I feel I should have been able to do. But this harshness comes from my adult lens – what I would do now comes form years of experience and learning and growing. But at 11 or 12 I was a child. I knew nothing of abuse before then. And then suddenly I experienced stuff that was way beyond my level of comprehension. Over the past few years I have spent time with 11 and 12 year olds (and other ages) and have been struck by their innocence, their curiousity, their desire to please, their playfulness. Seeing a picture of me making goofy faces made me laugh and reminded me of my innocence, playfulness. I was talking with a few good friends tonight about when I got baptized, and while I think that was a bit earlier than 11 or 12, I was talking about how I remember a desire to please my parents and God, and to do the right thing.

I was a child when the abuse happened. My father was a grown adult.

I did not understand the world of sex or what was happening to me. My father knew better than to cross these lines.

I responded in the ways that I thought were best in my childish perspective. My father never should have put me in a position where I should have to make decisions about how to handle trauma being inflicted upon me.

I was a child when the abuse started. A beautiful, young and innocent girl.

Tackling Trauma

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I’ve been rather sick with a dreadful cold that knocked the energy out of me and took with it my voice. So I’ve had lots of time to think about all the things I want to write on this blog – thoughts on Holy Week, thoughts on God’s call on my life, thoughts on compassion – but no energy or clear mind to actually write. Over the past few days, I have been wrestling with a lot of thoughts and desire to get involved in advocacy around childhood sexual abuse. I read something earlier this month that declared April to be Child abuse prevention Month and there are a couple of places that are collecting stories that I would like to contribute to. Then just the other day, I learned of a research study requiring participants who have gone through the criminal justice system against their abusers and I am excited to hopefully get involved in that.

Yesterday I began what will be an eight week journey of hopefully growth and healing. I started an intensive child abuse/trauma therapy program. I just finished day 2 of the program and I can say that I think it will be really helpful, but also very intense. I am so thankful that I did not try to tackle this program at other times in my life when I had the opportunity because I really was not ready for it. In talking with several women about readiness and talking with my own therapist, I have become convinced that there is a time for doing hard work in an intensive way, and a time to not do it. I’m glad I went with my gut that I was not ready, because now I see how I have things in place that I did not have last year that make it more possible for me to fully engage in this program.

Anyways, one of my hopes and dreams is that my story will encourage others who are on the same journey. So far my reflections on this blog have been rather intellectual and theological, and while they do  come from within a context of my current life experiences and thinking, I do not feel that they have fully addressed what I set out to address in this blog. I hope that as I share the ups and downs of my story and my journey, others will be encouraged to work on their own healing – whether from abuse or something else – and that my life will be a testimony to how God works. I hope too to do my part in breaking the silence of abuse and encouraging others to find their voice.

So here goes it…

Last week when I found out that I would be starting the program I was filled with excitement and fear all at the same time. Excitement because of the potential growth and healing, as well as the amazing privilege to be able to be guided by professionals who specialize in trauma therapy. Fear because I did not know what would happen in the group – what would I discover about myself? my history? how will I cope? The facilitators warned me that it would get worse before it would get better. But honestly, no one could prepare me for how this week would start! I had decided that I would bike to and from the program, saving money, exercising and also doing something healthy to transition from intensive therapy to “real life”.

I was almost at the program when I passed by one of my dad’s colleagues. Thankfully I was on my bike and I don’t think she saw me. But this was enough to send me into dreadful panic attacks. By the time I got to group, I was coughing uncontrollably because of being sick and the panic attacks and had to leave the group several times since I felt that I was disrupting it. At one point I left to throw up – this has never been one of my coping strategies, but was more of a sign of how distressed I was. Throughout the group, I was a coughing, sputtering mess and was totally embarrassed by it all. It took the afternoon and evening to digest what had happened and why I was so distressed.

My dad and I used to work at the same place. He was an ethicist and I was a receptionist and later a research assistant. It’s hard to believe that this was ten years ago. He is internationally known as well as highly regarded amongst his colleagues. I gave that job everything I had and people were impressed at my maturity for my age (I was 17 when I started working there) and I made strong connections that would later get me into university and provide excellent references for job applications. He and I were well liked. During my first few years of university, I hung out with a couple of other philosophy majors in the attic of the building where we worked. We decorated the room with pictures of the great philosophers (Kierkegaard made it up there of course) and would have many debates on ethical issues interspersed with intense reading times.

And then I had to call children’s aid and did not go home one night. I suddenly dropped off the planet at my former workplace and hangout. I was terrified to go back there.

The place where I go for the trauma program is literally 10 steps from the entrance to where my dad worked. I was supposed to do this program 4 years ago, but knew that I could not run the risk of bumping into my dad every day for 8 weeks. Now I know that he is no longer working there. But I underestimated how the proximity to the building would effect me.

When I saw my dad’s colleague – my manager – I felt intense fear. Throughout the past seven years, I have struggled with feeling like I am to blame. Going through the court process, as brutal as it was, allowed me to put blame where it belongs. But I realized yesterday that this has really only been an intellectual exercise. My family has made me out to be the black sheep, the one who ruined the family. My mom has used language such as “protecting the children” from me, making me feel like I am the criminal. The criminal court process isn’t designed to empower the victims and in cross examination, I felt like I had to defend my very being, again feeling like I am the criminal (Did you know that the accused has the right to choose whether they will testify or not? Their side of the story does not need to be looked at directly, while my every action, word spoken, letter written, and therapy record was questioned and used against me to make me out to be a crazy, vengeful liar.) Bumping into my dad’s colleague reraised questions that I’ve at times struggled with – what do they know? what do they think of me? how do they answer the questions of the fact that one day I just disappeared when I used to spend every day there?

I realized that my anxiety was related to a core belief that I am the criminal, that I am the one who has done something horribly wrong and should be punished for it. Cognitively, this is ridiculous and I can see that clearly. But inside, I feel the fear of being found out and the shame, as if my Dad’s actions were my fault, as if my Dad’s criminal record was my own doing, as if my Dad’s losing his job was out of my own volition.

Intense anxiety and fear…. intense realizations…. and on only day 1!

Yesterday before I left for the trauma program my beloved housemates laid hands on me and prayed for me as I embarked on this journey. I pray that God will reveal to me who I am, and meet me with his abundant love in both the exciting and the fearful moments. I pray too that as I (re)experience feelings that I will learn healthy ways of dealing with them. I am thankful that I do not walk this journey alone. I have a whole network of people who are praying for me and for this I am so very thankful.

Radical Hospitality

I normally don’t post book reviews on my blog, but I feel like this particular view has more of my thoughts lately than others. Radical Hospitality is something that I am truly passionate about. When I was 16, I worked at a horse breeding farm and noticed how therapeutic it was to work with these magnificent creatures. I began to dream of a day when I would offer my home and heart to those who have struggled with abuse. In the past month or so, I have been reminded of that calling and feel all the more strongly that this is what I am to do with my life. This book that I read, and write about below, actually wasn’t the greatest. It has a few gems, but it wasn’t all that radical. I post this to share some of my thoughts around hospitality and to challenge others to consider ways in which they can make their practices of hospitality more radical.

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Radical Hospitality: Benedict’s Way of Love is a book that tries to practically outline what Benedictine hospitality looks like in our culture and how we can make it a spiritual practice of our own. Written by Benedictine monk Daniel Homan and his friend Lonni Collins Pratt, it is filled with stories and lessons found in showing hospitality to various people at a Benedictine Monastery. In this report, I will outline some of values behind Benedictine hospitality as well as comment on the need for ‘radical’ hospitality in our world today. This book is a good start for people willing to make hospitality a part of their lives. However, I believe that it only scratches the surface of ‘radical’ hospitality.

We live in a world that is increasingly individualistic and about ensuring one’s own security, wealth and accolades. We live in a world of brokenness and even hostility that pervades and separates families, friends, and Christians. In current economic downturns, more people find themselves on the edges of homelessness. Others have always had shelter and other basic needs provided, but lack a sense of ‘home’ and stability.

St. Benedict’s rule continues to speak to us today, providing guidance in such a world and encouraging us to live out a life of hospitality. He writes, “All guests who present themselves are to be welcomed as Christ, for he himself will say: I was a stranger and you welcomed me (Matt 25:35)” (Rule 53:1). Homan and Pratt attempt to apply this principle to life today. They claim hospitality is “a spiritual practice, a way of becoming more human, a way of understanding yourself. Hospitality is both the answer to modern alienation and injustice and a path to a deeper spirituality” (Homan & Pratt, pg. 5). Hospitality needs to be a central part of who we are as Christians.

Homan and Pratt claim that hospitality is born out of a heart of gratitude and love (Homan & Pratt, pg. 5). God continually lavishes his love and grace upon us and when we come to truly acknowledge and accept this love, we cannot help but pour out love into the lives of those around us. They argue that a person must first be secure in God’s love before they will be able to offer true hospitality that accepts a person for who they are and where they are at in their lives. Moreover, when a person is secure in God’s love, they are filled with gratitude. They write:

Gratitude is an appropriate response once you know who you really are. Gratitude for all the grace that overlooks the worst, while moving you toward your original best self. Gratitude makes it easier to handle all the hard-to-like people who will step into your path (Homan & Pratt, pg. 159).

For Benedict and for Homan and Pratt, we receive Christ whenever we receive a person into our lives. This is referring to both the friend and the stranger. This requires a heart of humility and deep listening to be attentive to Christ in our midst. Sometimes Christ appears in the least expected persons. Moreover, Homan and Pratt remind us that we can be Christ to the person we encounter through hospitality. They write, “When we accept a human being, we are fostering the kind of hospitality that will change everything. When we build a life of acceptance, we build a new kind of kingdom among us” (Homan and Pratt, pg. xxx). When we are rooted in God’s love and have a heart of gratitude, others will see a way of life that is different than what the world offers. It is in both giving and receiving that Christ is made known. Receiving and being Christ is not always convenient. They write:

The stranger is a lot like God, after all, God is constantly disrupting our best plans, God shows up when it is less than convenient, God is present no matter what we do to shoo him off. How we live with all these strangers who keep messing up our plans will determine the future for all of us (Homan & Pratt, pg. 206).

The more rooted we are in Christ, the more able we are to welcome Christ in the stranger and to have the wisdom to know when to set aside our plans in order to receive the person on our doorstep.

Homan and Pratt point out that radical hospitality is countercultural. They claim that “[h]ospitality acknowledges the vulnerability of being human, both [our] humanity and that of the stranger” (Homan & Pratt, pg. 10). We are generally not a culture that wants to acknowledge our own vulnerability. Moreover we struggle to sit with the pain and brokenness of the other. We live in an age where discomfort is met with remedies to ease its pain rather than sit with it. We long for the resurrection, without the cross. Radical hospitality calls us into deeply sitting with our own brokenness and the brokenness of the other, and to allow Christ to meet us both in that brokenness. Radical hospitality, particularly to the stranger, may breed fear within us. Homan and Pratt write, “Acknowledging fear, facing fear, and sitting with it, this is a spiritual approach to hospitality” (Homan & Pratt, pg. 29). Fear should not be a deterrent to radical hospitality, but an opportunity for us to lean more on Christ who strengthens and sustains us.

Homan and Pratt challenge us that “[h]ospitality makes room even for the one who is frighteningly different – the dragon, you might say (Homan & Pratt, pg. 73). I found that their book, however, only began to touch on what I consider to be radical hospitality and leaves many important issues unaddressed. They provided many touching examples of hospitality, yet the most radical of these examples was dealing with the broken teenager or the grief-stricken family. This may be radical in a sense, but I believe that our call as Christians is also to a more radical form of hospitality. Is there a place in our hearts for the homeless, the sick and those who were imprisoned?

I recently went to a Christian group that walks alongside ex-convicts and their families. I learned of the typical way ex-convicts are reintegrated into the community – by living out the remainder of their sentences under the supervision of a parole officer and residing in halfway houses. Is there a way that we as Christians can show hospitality to those with criminal records? I have friends who struggle with deep depression and histories of trauma and desperately need people to walk alongside them. I know others who live their lives on the street, often in patterns of addiction, who smell and are at times awkward in interactions. I know others still who have fled their homes to leave situations of abuse and find themselves with nothing.

This is just a glimpse of people living on the edges of society and practicing hospitality in this way takes on a significant level of risk. How do we show hospitality to the ‘dragons’ of our society? Homan and Collins’ tame hospitality does not speak to this question. There are very real practical questions that come from this kind of radical hospitality. How does one hold another’s pain without being swallowed or consumed by it? How does one treat the other as an adult capable of choosing his own life while watching them make choices that are harmful to himself? How does one take the risk of offering their homes to the homeless, drug addicts, and ex-convicts, while also protecting one’s own home and family?

In conclusion, Homan and Pratt provide a very readable primer on the call to practice radical hospitality in our world today. They challenge us to see Christ in every person we meet and to show Christ’s love to them. As Christians, we need to grapple with the notion of what ‘radical’ hospitality looks like and how we can practice it to both the friend and the stranger.

Bibliography

Fry, Timothy, OSB, ed. The Rule of St. Benedict in English. Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 1982.

Homan, Daniel, OSB, and Lonni Collins Pratt. Radical Hospitality: Benedict’s Way of Love. Brewster, Massachusetts: Paraclete Press, 2002.