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Mark is the Retreat and Conference Center Director.
Share A Cup of Hospitality
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Being hospitable can be a most challenging trait. At the Cenacle we borrow the line from the Benedictines: when a guest comes, Christ comes. The idea being that we must be welcoming and hospitable to all. It is easy to have a very narrow gate, to allow just a few worthy souls to enter and receive your hospitality, at the appointed hour; it is quite another, to have an expansive sense of hospitality, which includes the unscheduled and unexpected.

“Do not neglect hospitality,” Sacred Scripture reminds us, “for through it some have unknowingly entertained angels” (Hebrews 13:2). Again, it can be easy to prepare for the times we expect to be hospitable, when holidays approach or planned gatherings happen. This we know and thus prepare to be hospitable perhaps by cleaning up, making arrangements, by preparing gifts or food especially things our planned guests may like. It’s the unexpected, the welcoming, the hospitality at the many unexpected guests and instances where we didn’t plan to have a comfortable cup of tea ready, or our time expended in listening to another. Try as we might, being hospitable is not dependent on being proactive (though it helps to be prepared). Being hospitable is a mindset, and a choice: a choice to welcome, a choice to share, a choice to lay previous plans aside to honor, help, and welcome another whether or not they are expected. Having a hard time with hospitality? I’ve found that gratefulness is a regular companion with hospitality. Perhaps there are other ways to engender a spirit of hospitality, to encourage us to say yes, and to understand that, whether angels, persons, or Christ himself, when someone approaches us we can choose to be hospitable.

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A change is not a transition. For instance on September 23, we had the Autumnal Equinox and seasons changed from summer to fall. The change may have happened formally, officially, seemingly at a specific minute or day, but the transition from summer to fall began well before September 23 and continues even today. The earth’s axis has been in transition and continues to transition itself and our seasons. In the North, our daily duration of sunlight has been transitioning from its peak in June through diminishment that leads up to the winter solstice. Trees do not wait for the equinox and all at once shed their leaves; trees transition like all flowers from growth, to bloom, to fade.

It is a shame, or so I believe, to equate transitions with changes. Transitions lead to changes; transitions are the little pieces that crescendo to the change, be it a season, or any other event. What helps me honor the difference between transitions and changes is being observant. Being observant helps me see the transitions around me – and in me. Being observant and seeing transitions helps me prepare for the completed transition, the change, when it arrives. The diminishing sun, the tinges of orange on otherwise green leaves helped me understand the transitioning into fall and the change of season when the time came. 

How are you observing the transitions in your life and in the world around you?

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