In Living with Less, I shared how our family of five managed while living in a space that was smaller than the top floor of our old house. It was a cherished time. We have spent these past summer months in our new home that comes with second floor laundry (bless), a full-sized kitchen with room to seat a large gathering and a Muskoka room. All hail the Muskoka room-
– I could live out there. With a coffee, a book, and a blanket, one could be lost for days. It’s surrounded by trees;the sun peeks through the forest at sunset. I mock the mosquitoes as they attempt to invade. A doe and fawn occasionally stop by.
Along with the spacious house has also come people. Family come to visit for a few days. Friends share dinner. Some of the younger people that work at the camp where we also live and work come by to borrow the much faster, dependable Wi-Fi or use the laundry facilities. As much as I am an introvert, I have found myself refreshed by the time spent with people. Living in a small space made it difficult to accommodate guests. I didn’t realize it but apparently I missed them.
Gather eight girls ages 18-26 around your table on a weekly basis to drink coffee, share coveted snacks and study the Bible and you won’t come away wishing you weren’t included. These girls come from as close-by as Toronto to as far away as Australia. I’ve learned that Australians don’t have nacho cheese, there exists a genre of music labelled EDM and “no one” is on Twitter any longer. I’ve been reminded how it feels to have your whole life ahead of you and be confident in your words and convictions.
The comforts of home effortlessly give way to easy conversation. A couch is not a couch but a soft landing spot when a friend is spiraling downward. A spare bed in a quiet room becomes a refuge in times of busyness and noise. A kitchen table becomes a place to share meals, words, belly laughs, games, ridiculous YouTube videos, homework, and on and on.
Washing dishes left behind by guests, my heart feels full. I may not have a degree in theology but it has become clear that my purpose is be Jesus, to be the Church, when the hurting, the lost and the wanderers come knocking. To have others feel at home when they are away from home. To be that safe place where agenda is left behind and false pretenses are unnecessary.There are no expectations on either side except to come as you are. After all, I have been blessed with space, food and fully-working laundry appliances – how can I not share them all?
As I was typing this, sitting out in the Muskoka room of course, someone came in to use the Wi-Fi. We chatted and then both continued working on our laptops while the birds filled the silence with song. Sometimes words aren’t necessary; just a comfy chair and warm cup of java.
“It turns out that I am terrible at converting people the old-fashioned way, with logic and reasoning and concise tactics and tracts, poignant sermons. Instead, I have the much less interesting spiritual gift of showing up and sitting on couches, of doggedly arriving, gamely prepared to help in whatever crisis of the day, and eventually fading into a background player in a story that was turning out to be much bigger than me.”-D.L. Mayfield in her new book Assimilate or Go Home, which I am aptly about to begin reading out in the Muskoka room.
While I will treasure the memories made while living small, I’ve fallen in love with having a long table that extends an invitation to many. Finally, home.