“We build on foundations we did not lay.
We warm ourselves at fires we did not light.
We sit in the shade of trees we did not plant.
We drink from wells we did not dig.
We profit from persons we did not know.
We are ever bound in community."

Rev. Peter Raible (paraphrased from Deuteronomy 6:10-12)

Friday, October 14, 2011

Practicing Hospitality

True hospitality is amazing.

Let me tell you what I mean. I spent part of the day down town at "The People's Plaza." While down there, I met a great guy named "T."

T's been staying over night in the plaza since day 1, and he explained that he used to work (in a well paying job) but that he'd recently lost that job. I'd guess T was in his mid to late 50's. He told me he didn't want to feel hopeless about the current economic and political crisis, so he came to the people's plaza.

What he's experienced has changed him.

Here's the gist of what he said to me, "This is incredible; the organizers are amazing; this process is democracy in action; and we're staying here until there's real change in this country. The community that's formed here is something else. We've got a medic station set up and a food station (along with a media station and more) - we feed anyone who's hungry. We take care of the homeless folks - food and a visit with the medic. It's like this country's supposed to be. We take care of each other. I didn't think I'd be here, but I am. And we're starting to communicate with the other "Occupy" organizers, beginning to plan together. I really didn't think I'd be here, but I am."

I had a plate of hot food while I was there, and T introduced me to one of the other organizers, D. We talked for a bit about the role that the faith community could have in this growing movement. We talked about staying grounded and not burning out, something near and dear to my heart.

As I left, I couldn't help but think about hospitality, the radical welcoming of strangers. I was a stranger and they engaged and welcomed me.  I was a stranger and they fed me. And it wasn't just me; this group was offering radical welcome and care to the growing number of homeless men and women who are on the streets of downtown Minneapolis. They are living their message of creating a new way, of truly putting people before profit, a way that might work for all of us.

P.S. If you're a new reader of this blog, and are curious to know more about me and how I am, check out this post.

P.P.S. Here's another good piece to read by a colleague of mine, the Rev. Bill Sinkford.

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