1. A sore throat and snuffle-y nose greeted me on Sunday, so I called V. Edit to ask her to tell the pastor’s family that I wouldn’t be joining them for lunch after church. I go there every other Sunday on the weekends the school is closed, but this week I didn’t feel up to braving the cold. So I stayed in my pajamas and pulled a book off my “t0-read” stack. At that moment, the porter came into the dormitory with a tray full of breakfast food, tea, and vitamin C. He had been informed of my under-the-weather state. And later, at lunch time, V. Edit came to the school with a big jar of chicken soup for my lunch. I was mostly better by Monday, and I think I know why.
2. My Luxembourgean friend Marielle is working at a nearby house the week, and on Tuesday she had some free time, braved the cold, wet weather, and biked to see me. The only other time I had received guests was in October, when the Budapest semester Calvin students had visited Ukraine as part of their curriculum. But there’s something about a friend coming just to see you, to drink tea in your room/homey space, to share your life.
So I was feeling rather giddy as Marielle turned down the dirt road on her bike and I waved to her from the gate. As soon as I’d hung up with her on the phone, I had jumped around my room distractedly but determinedly making things presentable. Of course she wouldn’t have minded a mess. But I couldn’t wait to open the door to my room and say, “Welcome!” and have the room say it along with me.
She joined us for lunch, we took a short tour of the school, and then we sat down at the table in my room and stirred honey into cups of tea while we talked. Eventually, we also got out my Taize song book and played around with two part harmonies. There was such comfort in repeating the familiar tunes and the life-giving words. But what gave me even more comfort – and joy – was that simple act of sharing. Sharing words, sharing music, sharing space. The author of Hebrews tells us “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:2) And in the gospel of Luke, we can read the story of Jesus’ appearance to two of the disciples after his resurrection; he reveals his identity to them after they invite him into their home. Perhaps we are more likely to encounter the divine during an act of hospitality because opening our lives and our homes requires such vulnerability – on both sides. But what a gift that vulnerability can be!
3. Cinti, one of the children I tutor, drew this picture for me last week. It’s hanging on my wall now. The text is the Ukrainian spelling of my name; Cinti is very proud of her Ukrainian knowledge and probably studies it more than she studies her English. But how can I complain about that when she gives me presents?