Embrace the life you have before it’s gone. ~L.L. Barkat
Please, God, let my parents come and beat her up.
We’d had a sword battle with pencils, Penny and I. And Mrs. Smith rapped my 7-year-old knuckles.
But not Penny’s.
So I turned around and scribbled on Penny’s picture.
And now I stood in the corner, lump in throat, cheeks aflame.
It didn’t occur to me that if my parents did come, I might be the one in trouble and not Mrs. Smith.
I just wanted to go home.
. . . when a home splits, it doesn’t create a sense of two new secure homes, but rather leaves a child feeling there is no home at all. Odd fears crop up, like the anxiety our important things could disappear at any moment–toys and other valued items.” ~God in the Yard, p. 112
I was never afraid to wake up and find that home had disappeared.
Five of us in four rooms, five if you count the screened porch that also served as the motel office. I painted it chartreuse one summer day while my parents were gone and didn’t get in trouble.
I didn’t get in trouble the early morning I went out in the rowboat alone and caught a couple bass and came home and cleaned them on the kitchen table so my dad could have fried fish for breakfast.
My great-grandmother lived with us. Well, technically she lived in a small log cabin just the other side of the dog kennel. I remember old-fashioned hard candies and the “fragrance” of limburger cheese. And arms that hugged me close when I threw myself into them. I’d never seen a helicopter before, and I nearly needed the toilet paper that I carried to restock the outhouse.
My grandparents moved “up north,” too, and lived with us for awhile until they bought a small restaurant a couple miles up the road. I learned how to serve there, but I learned hospitality at home.
Small house. Often lots of people who came to visit from “down below.” Aunts and uncles and cousins and the other set of grandparents and friends. I don’t remember where they all slept. Maybe in one of the four log cabins (three after one burned down, two after two were connected) or in one of the motel’s six rooms. I remember waking up on a cot or the couch in the living room-kitchen as hunters downed an early morning breakfast.
My parents practiced hospitality. Made room for communion around a gray formica table. With the smells of coffee and bacon and pancakes and the sounds of laughter.
They did much with little.
Save some for me! Save some for me!
Was it mashed potatoes? A piece of Grandma’s fried chicken?
My dad carried me, flailing and screaming, and dumped me on my bed.
I continued to wail and kick, until my heels broke through the drywall.
The shock was my punishment. I don’t think my dad ever fixed those holes.
They remained as reminders of my selfish struggle.
But I still struggle with selfishness.
And I don’t think of myself as a hospitable person.
I used to be.
But now I do little with much.
Hospitality wounded me.
So I locked the doors and barred the windows.
It’s a long story.
This book begins with an invitation to play towards God.
To just be at home in His presence.
To commune with Him at creation’s table.
To enjoy His hospitality.
It’s taken me eight months to write my way through it.
And I’m sad to see it end.
I like how the ancient biblical festivals build a communion-based hospitality into their structure–especially the trilogy of harvest festivals , which invite everything to the table: suffering, triumph, sorrow, joy, struggle, comfort, ugliness, beauty, emptiness, plenty, separation, community, death, and life. ~God in the Yard, p. 115
Each trip to the yard has been a celebration, a party, a festival of sorts.
Come as you are.
I’ve learned to see deeper.
I’ve heard and felt Him in new ways.
And He’s begun to heal these heart holes.
When I started feeling more like God’s Beloved throughout my year of daily solitude, existence seemed to become a kind of festival, welcoming all manner of emotions, the light and the heavy. Strange things started to happen . . . I had the urge to embrace people and forgive things. ~God in the Yard, p. 116
I’m learning once again to embrace and forgive.
And the end is just the beginning.
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. ~1 Peter 4:8-9