These past few months the word and the lesson have been Receive:
Receive what this day brings.
Receive the pilgrims that come into Pilgrim House.
Receive whatever Scripture is on the reading plan for that day. Even if it’s talking about dragons and babies and you need to eat breakfast soon.
Receive even that things like car accidents and sickness in the family happen.
What a difference this one word can make. Usually when something happens that I don’t like I get angry. Like when I’ve already set the agenda for the day and one of the kids gets sick and needs to stay home – those days I rail and rant and cry in my heart. It’s hard to be cheerfully responsive and flexible. Perhaps you can relate.
Having a mindset of receiving, though, totally changes my posture from one of anxiety and wanting to make things happen – or wanting things to have TURNED OUT DIFFERENTLY – to one of simply receiving what God wants to send or allow that day. Receiving, rather than fighting or trying to make the world happen the right way, opens my eyes to how God is working instead.
One November morning in Pilgrim House our prayer was for hearts that would receive the pilgrims the Lord had for us that day. A few hours later a pilgrim named Drew came in. He flashed me his phone which read, “Hi Faith. I’m a friend of Lydia’s and she told me to stop in here. Can we talk?” *
Drew was in the middle of a three-month vow of silence and communicated completely through hand gestures, typing on his phone, and a very expressive face and eyebrows. If I hadn’t had a heart to receive him I would’ve instinctively panicked at the anticipation of awkwardness and made some lame excuse to get out of sitting down with him. How can a “talk” between a silent person and a talkative person not be weird, right?
As it was, we had prayed that prayer so it was easier emotionally to go with the flow. Drew and I went into the back room and had a long conversation – him on his phone typing like crazy and nodding and giving me a thumbs up every time I said something fab, and me sitting quietly trying not to stare at him typing, and then answering his questions when he held up the phone for me to read.
It was a great, life-giving conversation and a lot of fun. It actually did feel like we were talking as we covered a wide range of subjects. We later had Drew and Lydia over for dinner (the photo above is of the four of us), and a couple weeks later we had Drew over again, solo, after he had finished walking to Finisterre.
It turned out Drew had his own radio show and had had a lot of interesting things happen in his life. ** Had I shut him out right away, dreading the difficulty of talking to a silent person, we would’ve missed out on so much. The posture of receiving instead of resisting unknown awkwardness made the difference that first day.
There are still a lot of lessons to learn in the area of receiving, though, especially when I think about serious illnesses, losses, or other circumstances to come that won’t have happy endings on this side. Thankfully as a family we’ve been spared a lot of these until now, and this fall while the word receive kept coming, the worst that happened here was the car accident and multiple days of sickness the kids had to deal with. Those moments spoke of receiving what the Lord was sending or allowing, but also of receiving his care and a strong sense of his presence. In the future then, when the more serious things come, hopefully my heart will be more prepared because of this season.
For now, this prayer in Pocket Prayers for Pilgrims sums it up well when it comes to the people who come our way:
whoever you bring into our path today,
may we see Christ in them,
and may they see Christ in us,
for your love’s sake. Amen.”
– John Pritchard
* We met Lydia Smith when she passed through Santiago a few years ago to promote her documentary Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago. She walks the Camino every couple of years and we get to see her whenever she’s back in town. This year Drew and Lydia happened to be in the same albergue at the same time and they became fast friends. We’re so glad Lydia recommended he connect with us!
** We Skyped with Drew last week and he gave me permission to share a bit about his story. You can find out even more about Drew at his website.
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