My mom's brain was bleeding last week. It was scary and painful and has meant too many days in two different ICUs before doctors decided it was a clot and blood thinners might slowly break it up.
My mom is the hub in our family's communication wheel, so without her gift of gab and trusty cell phone, we have scrambled to provide information to our loved ones. On the evening I was most frightened and stressed, I created a Caring Bridge page. I hoped it would mean less time spent on the phone discussing all the maybes and I don't knows that drive me batty. It was a functional way to channel information to caring people while showing gratitude. It was a sneaky way I was able to steer clear of so many conversations that tugged at my heart strings and dared me to break down sobbing. (I'm Nordic. Sometimes we like to keep it inside until we know what's going on outside.)
Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; cure the sick who are there and say to them, "The kingdom of God has come near you." - Luke 10
This week I am living with Sunday's text about hospitality. Jesus has set his face toward Jerusalem and equipped seventy servants of the gospel to go into far places without toiletries or wallets or shoes. They are to proclaim, "Peace" and "The kingdom of God has come near!" to those they meet. Some will hear these words as good news and others will sense judgment - their job is simply to proclaim the truth.
They are to eat what is put in front of them and heal those who are sick. This means they are to share humble and grateful hearts in the ordinary moments of dinner together and the extraordinary moments of illness defeated. They are to be aerobic and generous and wild with their hospitality, showing people that the kingdom of God is weird and different and really good.
This text seeps into my thoughts and limbs as I thank people for their generous offers of food, time and prayer. It dwells in the dark hospital room while my mother naps or tries to keep food down. It gives me legs for what news may come tomorrow and the updates I will type and the shift schedule I will create for when she needs care at home.
Hospitality is much more than opening the doors and hoping people will come inside. It is mobile and active and communicative and patient and risky. It is about being brave enough to be vulnerable. It's about letting your daughter change your hospital gown and letting other people pick up the slack. It's about telling the truth and being uncomfortable and finding satisfaction in our plain old relationships. Because you never know when sharing a meal will turn into illness defeated.
And so when I get scared, I picture my mom and her appetite on Saturday evening. She sat before a tray of chicken pot pie and mashed potatoes and steamed carrots. And after five aggressive bites, my eyes filled with tears. It was good to see her hungry and eating. Her blood pressure monitor beeped because her enthusiasm or the food had changed her readings. But without hesitation, she ripped off her blood pressure cuff and dug back in. She was going to eat what they put before her, damn it!
Thanks be to God for my little, brave mom and the truth we are called to proclaim: The kingdom of God is right here, creeping into our everyday lives and surprising us with reasons to celebrate.