When I look back on this year, I see a deep and abiding vein of grace that has brought me to the place I am now, safe, and I am so grateful for that. But it has existed in what has seemed mostly like a nightmare, so much like a nightmare that my memories of it are fragmented and disjointed, and the images rise up out of it like terrible fish out of a black pond.
She straightened herself up, turned to face me, and put her right hand over her left — a portrait of dignity and poise. And then, with just the two of us in the room, she began to sing over me.
“Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday, dear Mr. Ramsey. Happy birthday to you.”
Then she smiled, turned, and left the room.
And I wept.
I hold Jeanne’s book in one hand and Jill’s note in the other. It’d be nice to have them both here, but holding their words is nice, too. And I have the words that fill my bookshelves. Maybe someday my words will slowly settle again onto the page. Maybe I’ll unpack my life and see what makes it work like I did with the books I studied in school. Maybe this is my next annotation.
Sometimes I am frustrated with the way my denominational tribe approaches the Lord's table. (Sometimes I am frustrated with the ways single people are invisible in the church.) Occasionally I sneak off for what I call "a maintenance dose of liturgy," to a place where everything in the service builds to the table, and we literally approach it, getting up out of our seats and walking to it and holding out our hands. (Occasionally I sneak off to someplace where I expect to be invisible.) I did that a few Sundays ago.
Hospitality begins with homemaking, and proper homemaking is always connected to hospitality. The slow roll of daily tasks, like scrubbing the toilets and sweeping the floors. The seasonal study of vegetables and how they might come together for a meal. The predictable safety of steady care among housemates. And then you want others — non-residents, the stranger the better — to enjoy what you enjoy. You want to extend to others whatever provisions and comforts belong to your household. Even introverts may find that it feels natural to make home in this way. Hospitality is the art of homemaking for people who don’t belong to your home.