Holidays with the Harrisons / The beauty of messy hospitality

My roommate Brian is a swell guy, and in getting to know him better I have also gotten to know his family as well. They have invited me to several family functions, mainly holiday (and soon, a wedding) and today on Easter it was no different.

It started off with going to Easter at 11am at Springbrook Community Church where Brian’s father is the lead pastor.

I was a little early for the 11am service, so I waited around till Brian arrived and then we went into the sanctuary as it was starting…

It was a good Easter service with a few sleigh-of-hand’s by Brian’s father, a lot of laughter and a lot of celebration of the resurrection. From there I met some people Brian knows, and it was nice and social. From there I drove over to their house for Easter lunch, which was great because they do a good job at being themselves and being hospitable.

“Messy Hospitality” is a phrase I’ve heard before to describe hospitality as-is, no hook lines and sinkers, no catches, what you see is what you get, and so on. The Harrison’s home is such a place, and there’s a welcoming in that family that is “as-is” and I love it completely.
Messy hospitality can get complicated as its fractured and untidy. But I suppose that’s the beauty of it, it comes unvarnished and doesn’t have a shine to it for appearance’s sake. As Leonard Cohen croons in Anthem;

                                                              Ring the bells that still can ring
                                                              Forget your perfect offering
                                                              There is a crack in everything
                                                              That’s how the light gets in.

Growing up my family’s life was very private, and consequently my life was very privatized and compartmentalized. Some of it A lot of it was operating out of fear, and fear compounds itself on fear and before you know it you have this massive fear stack that you have no idea how you’re going to dismantle it…except, say if you move in the direction of honesty (to self inasmuch to others), even if that means transparency and, ultimately, messy hospitality.

///

Messy hospitality is what I aim to do where I am at in every walk of life unto everyone I associate with. I might not bare my heart on my sleeve, but I will be unflinchingly transparent where needed be. We all need boundaries in our lives, and so there are some things I will withhold from others and my blog for my own emotional and mental health.

For what I cannot wrestle on my own or with the help of others (which is statistically 92.5%) I take it to God in prayer. Occasionally Most of the time my prayers are detailed and very much “warts and all.” God gets me more than the other way around, but with that being said I lay it on thick.

I no longer fear what others think about me (most of the time),
I don’t have a nagging in the back of my mind to keep up appearances that are contrary to how I am feeling and responding to what’s going on inside and around me.
I don’t have a need to wait till I get “there” when it comes to hospitality, my door is wider and my table is inclusive to all.
It took time to get here, but may God be honored by the journey I’m on.

Onward and upward,
Nathanael

If there’s a heaven; Of unanswered questions, my grandfather, and Adolf Hitler

Earlier today as a personal exercise I examined myself from the inside as to what I’d like to do if Heaven exists. I realized as I was writing it that I slightly presented hell but not one of eternal conscious torment, but one where the fires lap at our human imperfections like dross from gold; a removal, an extraction of what isn’t good until we’re able to be reconnected with ourselves, with others, and also unto God.
With that being said, here goes something…

***

If Heaven does in fact exist, and if I am allowed to partake and enjoy it with God and all of humanity I want to do the following 3 things:

1) Find my maternal grandfather and catch up with him for an eon or so.
At this point in my life he is the number one person I miss the most of those who have passed away. He passed away when I was younger and I miss him a lot; I miss his stories, his humor, the weird twitching of his bicep when he’d flex, and so on. I do honor him now when it comes to All Saints Day and also when I meditate on the “cloud of witnesses” of saints who have gone before during my time of prayer. I hope that I am able to do this when I myself have passed away.

2) Present to God all the why questions I have.
I don’t know if I will have inner peace or satisfaction in asking all my why questions, but I’m going to give it my best shot. I realize that if given the opportunity it will take some time, but as the musician Chris Rice aptly put it; “it’s a good thing forever’s forever.” Yet maybe even still all I might receive is a hug and a resounding but comforting “I know…I know…I know” and that will be it. If it happens to be the latter, I am hoping that will be enough for my wearied mind.

3) If Adolf Hitler is already there, I want to forgive him.
If Hitler is already in Heaven, if he has already been removed of the dross that separates him from himself, humanity, and God, and provided I am dross-free as well I want to let him know that I forgive him. If, as Alexander Pope put it, “to err is human, to forgive divine” then I want to do that because I want to aid in reconnecting Hitler with his humanity and his Imago Dei-ness if at all possible. I realize the reason behind this is that I believe within every cell of my BEing that no one is able to fully resist the love of God forever because the very essence of God is love. It might take years or eons to “get it” and accept it, but love will win eventually. May the dross that separates us from ourselves, each other, and our creator be quickly stripped away!

Onward, Inward, and Upward!
~Nathanael~

Living wages; a bit of a rant

I am more than slightly fed up with the cut-throat rat race of pursuing jobs in my field. It seems at times that there’s adequate work, a lot of people vying for those positions, but when it comes down to what the demands of the job it certainly doesn’t reflect “competitive wages” but rather the same or slightly above the minimum wage.
I was thinking about this the other day, that a lot of companies seem hard-pressed in making a lot of money, but unfortunately the people who help companies get there financially hardly see a payout for what they’ve done. Living wages can benefit everyone in the company, not solely the top people in a business, and I got to thinking about the business model I would cultivate if I had my own business.

If I had my own business, I would provide everyone with living wages! Everyone benefits from it, but granted ego and pride make some people think they’re worth more.
Yet if this were the case I would give them room to demonstrate their worth, but on the condition that their pay would go up if they could deliver, if not they’d have to pay back the difference to whatever their wages was prior. I’m not a business man, I don’t know how to quantify someone’s worth but if it improved the business, and subsequently the business of that individual’s
coworkers…why not pay them more, why not pay them what they’re worth.

***

Yet I don’t see that happening, I see greed in the profit sector as well as the non-for-profit. It gets frustrating at times because I know that my education background, my experience, what I am capable of, my worth (money-wise) should be evidence to support why I should be paid at a higher level. Then there’s the factor of how someday I want to have a wife and kids; I want to provide for them and give them a bit more than a roof over their heads and food on the table. But I’m realizing how many companies aim to keep me semi-financially afloat as a single man, but at the same time don’t weigh in my I should be paid for what I am capable of, actual living wages.
Yes I might strike a chord of entitlement and arrogance, or that I might just be money hungry, but I assure it’s not like that at all. I just want to be paid what I am worth, is that too much ask?

So I guess I leave this up to you the reader; what are your thoughts about living wages? Are there any downsides I am not factoring in?

~Nathanael~

Communication is vital/367 days later

This is going to be a semi-difficult post to write. It may also be semi-difficult to read. So read with caution and I’ll take caution in the writing…

Communication is vital, and there is someone in my life albeit a bit less now that I have away from my hometown and out on my own. This person is family, and despite being family, we haven’t had a serious conversation with one another in 367 days. Now you might ask me how do I know how many days it has been, well simply put, we talked on a serious level prior to the midnight showing of the first installment of The Hobbit.

***

One thing I recognize with communication with me, I do what I can to get from the

of the conversation pool and into the

pretty quickly. I like getting past the general/typical questions and asking the more difficult questions. Some people think I transition into these types of questions faster than I ought to, but I think I am pretty good at assessing character and whether or not someone is capable and willing to get there conversationally with me.

Yet with this person in my life whom I haven’t spoken to in 367 days there’s the nature of we hardly get to the deep end, and it’s not that I don’t try to get there, I just think that the other person’s incapable of getting into deeper waters conversationally. It’s hard, it really is, because I sometimes don’t know how to go back to the shallow end when I’ve been to the deep end; I guess I kind of have to adapt to these present circumstances. Yet I realize this despite the difficulty of this self-perceived backtracking, if it will help foster communication and restoration to a fractured relationship then it is totally worth it. 🙂
I also realize that it begins with me; as much as I’d like to wait around on this person to get their shit together, it isn’t necessarily going to solely happen based on me wanting or hoping that they do it, I need to be willing to be the one who gets it going! So with all that in mind, this is a resolution that I carry out. If I meet resistance, I’ll withdraw but not fully retreat; as someone who has been discarded like trash before, I don’t like the feeling and realize that redemption is for everyone if they’re willing to be redeemed.

~Nathanael~

The god of vacant parking spots

I have a family member who when driving with her she tends to pray in advance of me parking my car for a parking spot.

Now I consider myself a man of prayer. I enjoy praying because essentially it is talking and communicating with God, and there are times there’s no one I rather talk to than God, and not in bad times where life is unmanageable and I’ve gone on too long in leaning on my own strength but times when life is good, times when perfect shalom appears to be the horizon.

My take on praying to a god for a parking spot is…well…making God out to be something he’s not, in the same stride the god presented when looking for a parking spot, is the god that gets prayed to when we leave the house late and hope to get on work on time, the god who gets called upon when we’re watching to see if our lottery ticket is the one that wins big, the god who’s thanked for unexpected pizza days at school, the god we pray to that we don’t get caught after pulling an illegal u-turn, the god who let our team win the Super Bowl.

The thing is, that god is not God. That god is small, puny, domesticated and contained. He is docile, he’s our lucky charm, he’s our Mr. Potato Head…but what kind of god is that? What good is a god like that?

C.S. Lewis put it well in his book The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. One of the children upon hearing that Aslan is a lion asks The Beavers if Aslan is safe; “Of course he isn’t safe! But he’s good.” Aslan is the character representing God, in which He cannot be thoroughly comprehended, he cannot truly be defined by mere human words, there is no box to contain him and he is not safe…but he is good. So to attribute available parking spots to him, the lack of getting a ticket, the winning of the Super Bowl, and so on is detrimental to us and not to God.

Instead of putting God in a box, why not let God be God? Because a God who isn’t contained by our standards and presuppositions is more of who he is anyway. He isn’t safe, but he is good.

~Nathanael~

//