“... hospitality asks for the creation of an empty space, where the guests may find their own souls.”
— Henri J.M. Nouwen (1932 – 1996)
It isn’t surety that heals,
Nor the giving of an answer,
What we have to do is allow,
A soul to be its own dancer.
As space is given in spades,
Healing comes into its own being,
It comes at the right time,
And the soul is left there, seeing.
HOSPITALITY is centrally a beautiful thing in the mode of ministry; the ministry of a soul’s healing. In the mode of host we have issued an invitation that all may come and find a home with us. Finding such a home necessarily means that the host is ready not so much to share their own burdens and therefore add to another’s burden, but that the host is ready to provide space for them in their struggle; to give meaning to the struggle because space is made for it to exist as it truly is.
This space is actually against providing an answer, because it acknowledges that it is space that people require to enter into their own suffering in order to find their own healing. Space is the great enabler.
Healing cannot abide in pat answers, as if a standard remedy would apply. The host with the answer, therefore, is disqualified, for they are closed off to the necessary allowance of space the person being ministered to needs. There is a sharp degree of nonsense in the very thought that one person’s answer might align with another’s.
The host is able to open their home – which is spiritual home and not a house – in order that the person who desires to be healed might find rest, respite, and cooperation in their pain.
There may be no such thing as an instant faculty for healing. Of course, this makes much sense to anyone who struggles to believe in miracles, not to say that miracles don’t occur. It just means that healing, whilst it is mysterious, isn’t in the order of the ridiculously sublime. There is an explainable process and outcome, even if the outcome is still somewhat mysterious.
There are no instant answers or experts in healing, but healing can come through the open space of hospitality. A host doesn’t have the answer, but they do provide space, to listen and to enquire with the person who is struggling, and to allow another soul to find his or her own healing.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.