I mentioned at the church meeting that last week we had a guy sleeping on the patio near the men’s toilets. We were able to talk with him, assist him, and give him rest. In fact, more than that, he had a cat with him, and when he woke he asked if we could babysit his cat while he went to get his pension in Civic. We did and he returned most grateful for our care of him and his cat, so much so he donated $20 to the Centre, and he said that this space gave him the opportunity to think through his issues and gave him the courage to go back to the place where he was living and confront the problems that led him to the streets.
We discussed this in the office a bit and we talked about how it was not that difficult for us to care for this man and his cat, but it made the world of difference to him. But more than that, in our routine this was something of an interruption and we had to accommodate it as we scrambled with the things that we were doing and mae quick decisions. We could have said to this man: ‘Move on, you can’t be here’. But we decided, no, let’s attend to him. It was a bother to us but we could manage it.
A couple of things we learned:
1. Hospitality does come from a deep core that looks at another with care and compassion. That does not mean we be foolhardy and put ourselves at risk. We always need to weigh up risk, but we also need to think about how we can best care.
2. Sometimes the interruptions that come our way can figure as major moments of grace! Interruptions can be bothersome because, by their very nature, they interrupt our flow and agenda of things we may have set for ourselves; they can also be very destabilising to our inner working model (the way we process and manage things). But sometimes, just sometimes, they can be vehicles of transformative change if not for ourselves then perhaps for others.
So … hospitality is required of us and, whether trivial or monumental, interruptions can remind us that each moment is an opportunity of grace where we can respond appropriately with care and compassion. Further, hospitality demands of us to consider our own state of being, to be centred and calm, so that when interruptions do happen we can think clearly and respond appropriately. But finally, hospitality urges us to consider that when interruptions occur to give thanks, for as C. S. Lewis understood, they are a real part of life:
“The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s ‘own’ or ‘real’ life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life – the life God is sending one day by day.”