Good Lord, I'm back. And I've missed you terribly. As you may realize, I went underground for a few months, after being warned by the elected arbiter of discretion herself not to use the "f" word so freely, lest I lose all chance at future clients. (I refer to the "f" word that ends with "t." Much more taboo, as it turns out, than the one that ends with "k.")
Then I stopped writing.
I tried, Lord I tried, to figure out whether I could continue to send you a password-protected blog by email, but finally after much research, discovered that one cannot do that.
Fine. Public it is.
I'm here to tell you today about hospitality. I attended church yesterday. The guest minister spoke about the nature of Christian hospitality. She listed a hundred things that define hospitality.
Hospitality is inviting the hungry to your dinner table.
Hospitality is not getting mad at your kids when they interrupt your reading.
Hospitality is not getting annoyed with your spouse when you're really mad about something else.
Hospitality is inviting friends over for dinner. (Thanks, I get that.)
Hospitality is not giving someone the finger when they cut you off. (Well, she didn't literally say that.)
After ten minutes in which she used the word hospitality so many times that I thought maybe it's not a real word after all, I was torn. Option 1: Schedule a post-sermon editorial meeting with her to explain the limits of repetition and parallel structure. Option 2. Run out of sanctuary screaming.
I should have done the latter, because I sat through that sermon and dropped into the coffee hour to be immediately confronted by a homeless woman I once knew when she rented a room next door. She said hello and asked for a ride to exit 5. I cursed my attentive ears. Hospitality. Okay. I'll take you and your heavy black trash bag to exit 5, you complete nut job alcoholic. How uncompassionate.
She immediately launched into a diatribe of non sequitirs about all the people who were in conspiracy against her, who'd stolen her million dollar inheritance, her Cumberland Farms, her million -- no half million -- dollar laundromat business, and to top it all off, her Sprint phone. Then she asked if she could sleep on our couch.
It was to be the coldest night of the year. Minus-5, they said in the papers. I had just listened to a sermon on how Jesus took in the cold, the hungry, the dispossessed. I looked at her. And guess what I said?
I suggested that she consider the town shelter. She continued the story about the man who beat her on Court Street and her lost cell phone and the evil of people who turn their back on those in need.
I dropped her off at Micky D's, near the bus stop, and gave her $5.
Good, she said. That'll get me to Boston.
No it won't, I thought. It won't even get you on the bus.
I ask you now the same question I would liked to have asked the minister: Would YOU have given her a ride? Would you have upped the $5 to instead give Crazy Lady the entire contents of your wallet? Would you have felt comfortable with her in the car talking about how they abuse children in South America, while your four year old sits in the back seat?
Would Ms. Minister have let her sleep on her couch? And how about the OTHER 99 people in the congregation that day? Hmmmmm? And do you agree that I'm lucky she didn't have a knife? Just checking.
There are limits to this Christian hospitality thing. Do you agree? Good. I'll see you in hell.