Sunday, 30 November 2014

An extra plate...

Another hectic morning behind me.  I woke up early this morning and prepared our lunch so that we can just come eat after church.  After church, however, we had to quickly go to town for a few things.  All around us were people in just as much of a hurry as what we were.  Back home, I quickly laid the table and as I put the plates out I thought of the story that my mom told me about my grandmother.  I never knew her, but my mom has told me many stories about her.  She was a very generous person and had a great sense of humour.  My mom said that despite the difficult times they were living in (it was the years of the great depression) she always managed to make sure that her family was well fed and there was always enough in case somebody unexpectedly dropped by.  There was always enough for an extra plate of food.  No matter what the circumstance her door to her house (and heart) was open and her home ready to welcome a stranger.
In the world we live in that is quite a strange concept.  First of all we are so busy that we rarely seem to have enough time for our loved ones, let alone time to entertain strangers and secondly, with a world so full of con artists, thieves, scoundrels, etc, we dare not take a chance to invite strangers into our homes.  I mean, who does that today?  How sad it actually is, that it is necessary to look at people around us, not with eyes of love and concern, but with eyes of suspicion, always ready to protect ourselves and our loved ones against them.  We lock ourselves in our fortified homes and hide behind tightly drawn curtains.  We teach our children not to talk to strangers and not to trust anybody.  We keep our hearts from caring too much.  The Bible teaches us to show hospitality to strangers, because you never know whether that person might be an angel, and I wonder how many angels I have ignored that came knocking at my door, because I was too worried that it might be the devil.
We talk about compassion, we talk about caring for others, we claim to be children of God.  We are horrified by the hardship and misery we see around us, yet we cannot spare a plate of food for another person, and I am not even talking about a complete stranger, I am talking about that person who has lost a loved one recently, that now has to make a bowl of rice for herself, the divorcee next door that rather goes to bed hungry, than having to face the loneliness of a dinner for one, that new person who moved into our community and sits alone in church, the one who we all wonder about, but no-one talks to.  We just smile politely, say a few pleasantries and then we quickly move away.
Maybe it is time that we do not just talk about caring, but start to do something about it.  My sister told me about a friend of hers who makes a point every Christmas to invite people, who have no family or loved ones, to spend Christmas Day with them.  Maybe it is time to lay an extra plate at our table and invite somebody to share our meal with us...

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