Covid 19 has put a major damper on my expressions of hospitality. It’s a bummer. Usually this time of year marks the beginning of bar b ques, friends hanging out, fires in our fire pit, music on the patio or front deck. I think that last year around this time we had a huge fish fry. Not so much this year, with the gatherings of 10 or less order. It’s a weird switch. I’ll be the first to admit that the one with the greatest gift of hospitality between my husband and me would be him. He’s a party all the time kind of guy. Before quarantine hit, and some other life changes that we went through last year (God moving us to a different church, and us stepping down from leading a Bible Study/ accountability group we had been doing weekly for 4 years), our weeks were spent trying to figure out what would be the menu for the next cook out and how many people can we invite. If I would put the brakes on, for any particular reason, he would want to know what was wrong with me. The weekends were meant for family and friends. Anything less was inconceivable in his mind.
The change of pace has been pretty nice for me, if I’m completely honest. I’ve enjoyed the focus on my kids, my husband, and my new grandson. But every now and then I miss my friends. I miss seeing them, sitting around, and shooting the breeze. I miss the long conversations after church while everyone waited for someone to tell them where we were going to eat. (Usually Mexican/ usually decided by my husband, Not sure why. lol) The joke with our kids had always been, “mom and dad are always the last ones out of the church. They shut the place down.” Then staying at the restaurant until 3 or 4 talking, laughing, and sharing our lives. The waiters at the restaurant knew us by name and called us “Los Hermanos de la Iglesia” (the brothers from the church) when they would seat us. Alejandro always served us, we called him “Alex” because the gringos amongst us couldn’t swing the pronunciation. I really miss those days. Come to think of it, Monday didn’t feel so bad when we started the week because we knew Friday through Sunday would make up for it. So social isolating has been hard, but probably harder than that was the changes we went through from July til present when our solid group of friends went through a major shake up, we went to different churches, and we just don’t see each other like we used to.
It’s funny what got me thinking about all this, Acts 16 and the account of the salvation of Lydia. Lydia was a dealer of fine linens, purple, to be exact. She went outside of the city gates to a place near a river to join in with a group of women to worship the one true God. She was European, not Jewish, but she was hungry for God and being with people who sought Him. When Paul and Silas arrived, they struck up conversation with the women there. Lydia listened and God opened her heart to Paul’s message and she was saved and baptized. Then she did something that I understand, because it is pretty common in southern hospitality, she persuaded Paul and his travel companions to come to her home. Probably touting the food she would fix, the comfortable beds they could rest on, and all the proper enticements a proper hostess can throw out to attract a guest- cookies, pie, ice cream, etc. Later after a series of events, Paul and Silas are noted as returning there “where they met with the brothers and sisters and encouraged them.” So apparently Lydia had a little of the “Paula Dean” touch. She knew how to make them feel comfortable and how to enjoy their company using her home as a tool of her ministry. Lydia’s house had become “the hub” for “Los Hermanos de la Iglesia”. A pretty cool deal. It made it to the Bible. 🙂 Paul then encouraged them, and then after what I’m sure resembled our 3 hour long southern good byes, Paul and his companions left. Complete with someone hollering out the window, “Watch for deer!”
There’s something about a good conversation and a cup of coffee. Topped off with prayer and encouragement. Sprinkle some laughter and smiles. Just what the doctor ordered. Maybe our Covid 19 time out is just what we need to see the value in that once more. We’ve been content to check off the boxes: work, kids stuff, church services, grocery run, etc. And somewhere along the line we lost the Andy Griffith world we used to have of long summer evenings, singing on the front porch with friends, playing some cards, and sharing some time and our lives. It could be that getting back to that is one of the things God is wanting to get us all about, or at least me.
In the mean time, I’m going to brush up on my dessert making skills, work on making my house more guest worthy, and try to make the best of our new “Jetson’s” type socialization – Screen meetings on Zoom. I will pray for a time once again where the “hugger” inside of me can greet my friends with a hug and a smile as we sit down to talk about life and testify of God’s goodness to us each and every one.
May it come quickly!