31 July 2008

radical hospitality...

now almost all of us are moderately familiar with the story of the feeding of the five thousand (or 'the story of 5 loaves and 2 fish') in mt 14. the purpose of this post is not to expound on that story but to say thank you to the somewhat anonymous octogenarian that offered (and fulfilled) myself and 4 other guys lunch yesterday. as we finished moving a friend in chapel hill from one apartment to another a voice crept out of the bottom story apartment. the voice offered a lunch of fish and homemade bread to 5 total strangers and the aroma of fried fish from smith mountain lake all but answered her request. we went in and ate ravenously, making small inquiries about her family scattered throughout the united states. baring the glowing review and subsequent condemnation of the roman church, and another separate chiding for failing to recycle a gatoraide bottle, this old woman glowed with warmth and grandmotherly kindness (above and beyond the "glow" she had on from the "spritzers" she had admittedly already consumed during the cooking process). we ate our food and gave our goodbye hugs, sweaty and smelly as they must have been. A couple things stuck with me from this beautifully odd encounter...

1) she said, "i had these fish and nobody to share them with, so i decided when i woke up this morning just to cook them and i would find someone to share them with." if i only had her generosity with my possessions and her willingness to trust in an opportunity to bless someone else i would be much better off.

2) she not only gave them to us but invited us in and, i think, garnered more enjoyment in watching us eat and laugh then just the pleasure of giving in the first place. i forget sometimes that the mode is as or more important than the gift. the party, as it were, is the focus rather than the cake or the presents.

3) she told us that she was everyone's grandma. regardless of the fact that she had her own real grandkids and us grandparents of our own. this attitude of instant familial tie, automatic community was brilliant to behold.

thanks grandma in apt 910, for the meal, the lesson, and your example of radical hospitality.

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