We’ve just had our second round of summer visitors to our house – although this time our visitors were actually stangers when they arrived.  That is right…we had never met them before they, (with three children in tow), showed up on our doorstep.

Now, in all fairness, I had connected with Chamie over a couple of phone calls after she purchased one of the calendars.  She is part of an organization called Raising Micah which focuses on faith formation and family spirituality.  During one of our conversations, she talked about the sabbatical journey that she and her family would be going on this spring/summer and I offered our house as a place to stay should they make it to the Seattle area.  (Chamie wrote a great story about our connection here at their blog.)

So what did I learn about welcoming stangers?

1.  Jesus comes into my house through the stranger.  I was reminded of one of the Rules of St. Benedict…”All guests who present themselves are to be welcomed as Christ, for He Himself will say:  I was a stranger and you welcomed me (Matt. 25:35).  It also brought back the encouragement of Mother Teresa to find the face of Jesus in each person.  As the Delkeskamps were with us, I saw and heard Jesus in new ways.

2.  Grace and Flexibility are the garments we wear when the stranger is with us.  Life is not “as usual” when we welcome the stranger.  Time schedules are different, kids do not always get along, agendas need to be checked, and tending to guests takes time away from other endeavors.  My time is no longer about me, it is about the “other” and so grace and flexibility become the clothing I must put on hour by hour.

3.  It is occasion for a Feast.  I have heard that in the ancient monasteries, when a guest would arrive, if the abbott was in the middle of a fast, he would break it in order to dine with the guest.  When others present themselves to us, it is an opportunity for being that “hilarious giver” from 2 Corinthians.  So we ate well and in abundance with dessert at each evening meal (to which my children shout a huge “hurrah”!!)

4.  We must listen and ask questions.  Because the stranger is not us (does not have our same background or history), we must be question askers and good listeners.  The Delkeskamps are a “luthodist” family (Tim is a Lutheran pastor and Chamie is Methodist minister) which is quite opposite my upbringing.  But I had a lot to glean from them – a lot of wisdom and perspective – so I tried to listen well and live in the form of a question mark.

5.  It is a great way to make friends.  I often wonder what would happen in America if we were not so mobile and you had no other options except to go to the truly “local” church.  If we didn’t have so many choices or see church through the eyes of a consumer, would we learn to live with one another in the bonds of unity?  When a stranger stays in your home, they cannot remain a stranger for long.  Neither person has any other place to go, so we must interact, talk, compromise, and live together…all of which grows a friendship.

I am blessed to have had the Delkeskamps here in our home.  I have new ways of seeing the world and of seeing God; I (hopefully) learned to love better and grew my heart in generosity; I got to see how God connects all His people to one another.  And I was able to see a transformation happen right before my eyes – that beautiful metamorphasis from stranger to friend!