The summer I turned nine, I survived leaving home for the first time. As a homebody, the thought of two weeks away at summer camp made my stomach queasy. Despite incessant pleas to skip summer entirely, I became a very homesick camper at Laity Lodge’s Singing Hills.
I can’t remember the name of my cabin or my counselors, but I remember my horse’s name: No Count. Of course. The other girls rode horses with names like Honey, Briar Rose, and Buttercup, but I got No Count. Surely the horse’s name harbored some kind of hidden meaning. I struggled to fit in, wondering if I mattered to anyone.
On the third night of camp, my counselor scooched over to make room for me at supper. “Come sit here, Kristin,” she said, patting a spot on the bench next to her. “There’s plenty of room.”
There’s plenty of room.
The words still echo from the Canyon. My heart quickened, and by the time we circled up for campfire that evening I felt a warmth greater than the flames in front of me.
There’s room for you.
It was such a tiny gesture—a slight scooch to the left—but one that I recall nearly four decades later. I had been invited in. A place was made for me at the table, and I received the welcome I so desperately wanted and needed.
A Window to the Cross
Romans 12:13 says hospitality is taking every opportunity to open your life and home to others. Simply put, hospitality means making room.
In our busy, task-oriented lives, it’s hard to make room for others. We have little or no margins built into our schedules. The thought of hosting dinners, overnight guests, or neighborhood potlucks can be overwhelming. Hospitality feels like one more box to check off the never ending to-do list.
But theologian Francis Schaeffer encourages us that hospitality doesn’t have to be a grand affair: “Don’t start with a big program. Start personally and start in your own home. I dare you. I dare you in the name of Jesus Christ.”
Almost two years ago, I took Schaeffer’s dare to heart. I placed a bright turquoise picnic table smack dab in our front yard beneath a magnolia tree, close to the edge of our lively street. The turquoise table has become a gathering place in our neighborhood where friends and even strangers sit and visit for a while. We make room for one another.
The seeds of hospitality that bloomed beneath the tree were planted in my heart all those years ago at Laity Lodge Youth Camp. I learned that, despite my horse’s name, I did count! I counted in the eyes of those who loved and nurtured a pitiful, homesick girl, but mostly, I counted in the eyes of God.
As followers of Christ we are called to be consistent givers and receivers of hospitality. And sometimes, offering outrageous hospitality is as easy as scooching over and making room. The result is good news: by opening up our lives to others, we provide a window to the cross.
This post originally appeared at The High Calling and is reprinted here under a Creative Commons license.