by Christine Sine
Tom and I are on the final week of our 25th anniversary trip and I find myself reflecting a lot on whom we have met and what we have experienced. So much to process, and I know that the first couple of weeks at home will be a rich time of looking back with gratitude and appreciation.
I am particularly grateful for the gift of friendship and the richness it has brought to our trip and to us. So many have invited us into their lives in generous gifts of hospitality both given and received. Friends old and new have offered hospitality and opened their homes and their lives to us as we travelled.
Some have hosted us in their homes. We have reconnected to old friends in Durham, Edinburgh, Chichester and Hove and renewed friendships. The gaps have melted away as we pick up where we left off 10 or more years ago. There is nothing like a good friendship revived after many years. Ii is a little like enjoying an expensive vintage wine that has been bottled and kept in the dark until it is at its best.
Strangers too have offered of hospitality and have become friends in the process. Communities in London and Prague in particular where the generous offer of hospitality has brought us together with likeminded people and cemented our friendship in ways we never anticipated.
There is the gift of good friends met along the way too. In Passau Germany we renewed friendship with Tom’s best man from our wedding after 10 years apart and in London a chance comment on Facebook led to a meeting with a long term friend from San Diego. Such special blessings to reconnect and make new memories together.
There is the gift of strangers who have become friends. Chance met companions along the way like a couple from Canada we kept running into on Iona and then heading back to Oban on the ferry. And on our Viking cruise, fellow travellers from Australia, Canada and the U.S. have given us cherished memories and new friendships to enjoy. Even the staff offered the friendship of celbrating our 25th anniversary with us. Strangers are friends waiting to happen.
In the midst of these generous gifts we have been able to offer a small measure of hospitality too. Both guests and hosts as the Celtic Christians taught us. We have cooked meals and issued invitations for extending hospitality in Seattle hoping that the bonds already formed will continue to be strengthened.
As I reflect back on these encounters and the specialness of friendship hospitality, Ecclesiastes 4:12 comes to mind A cord of three strands is not easily broken. Every friendship is like a threefold cord. It may only involve two people but always in the background there is that third strand of God’s presence that weaves together the other strands in love and companionship.
God does not intend any of us to travel alone. Friendship is one of the most precious gifts of hospitality. It is all around us waiting to be given and received, waiting to bless and to be a blessing.
What is Your Response?
You may not have travelled as much as we have in the last month, but God has still offered you the hospitality of friends. Sit for a moment and think about your own encounters over the last few weeks:
Who are the friends you have shared hospitality with that have enriched your life and provided special memories? Sit in the stillness of the moment and savour those memories. Write about them in your journal. Offer prayers of gratitude to God for them. Is there a special response that God might ask you to make towards them?
Who are the strangers you have encountered that have enriched your life? In what ways did they provide hospitality for you? In what ways were you able to be their hosts? Savour these memories too. Journal about them. Offer prayers of gratitude to God. Is there a special response God is asking you to make?
Now read this prayer which I wrote as I considered the encounters I have had that have provided hospitality for me:
Unite us God Almighty,
Unite us with the threefold cord of friendship.
Unite us with the threefold cord of love.
In the name of the Creator,
In the name of the Son,
In the name of the Spirit,
Unite us with the Three,
Unite us with the One,
Unite us with the strands
That can never be broken.
Is there a prayer that bubbles up from within your heart too? Write it down and if you feel prompted share it with us as a comment on this post.