Hospitality and Lament

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Hospitality and lament.

We have become all too well acquainted with the walls of our own houses in these recent weeks. But I’ve seen hospitality flourish. It’s a long held artist secret that we are pushed to our most creative place when met with a lack of resources. Sidewalk chalk murals, painted rocks, door step gift bags filled with toilet paper, virtual concerts, drive by parties, and literal singing from the roof tops. People are loving and caring for the stranger. They are showing up for people they’ve never met. They are sewing masks, delivering food, and asking how to help.
Loving and caring for the stranger — hospitality. God calls us to this kind of hospitality. 

Hospitality and lament.

I’ve been thinking a lot about lament. Lament is what happens when you ask “why?” but don’t get any answer. I’ve been working in some form of international humanitarian aid all of my adult life. The mental fatigue of comparing my life to life in… you name the place… is exhausting. I have an arsenal of tools to help me process, and prayers to lift up when I’m taxed by empathy. But this feels different. The whole world is going through this. I feel so connected to so many people I’ve never met. I feel incredibly grateful for a house I enjoy being in, and trapped at the same time. I’m thankful that my family is healthy, but grieve for those who aren’t. I get frustrated by inconveniences and interruptions to my routine, but then quickly overwhelmed at my selfcentered mind and lament for all those who are truly suffering. And then I feel a bit of shame. I recenter and try to enjoy this time at home, make new games, play with my toddler, get outside. And then I feel a bit of shame for enjoying life while others are literally dying. How can I hold on to joy and sorrow at the same time? I can’t. I let it out. I paint it. 

Hospitality and lament.

It has never served me well to hold on to my emotions. I’m one of those people who shelves them like a book to open later when I have time go through it. But I’m learning to allow them to happen. To give them space to breathe and then disperse. When I paint I let myself feel all the feels – without trying to make sense of them, justify them, or understand. 
I don’t have the answers. And I likely don’t have anything new to share. But in my lament, I am grateful for a reason to love the stranger and to seek creative ways to spread hope.

Hospitality and lament.

N.T. Wright talks about how God laments with us. In a recent article he says, “As the Spirit laments within us, so we become, even in our self-isolation, small shrines where the presence and healing love of God can dwell.” I find this wisdom incredibly hopeful. 
In my processing I painted an image of resilience and hope, hospitality and lament. 



My process in painting is often just to dive in and create as things come to me. It isn’t until later that God revels the message through reflection or translation from others. Here are the things I was intentional about — I wanted to include a mask for the obvious reasons in response to the coronavirus. But also because it symbolizes a covering, safety, and caution. The woman is painted in shades of grey with bright flowers to allow the viewer to focus on the beauty of her spirit, her identity in Christ.

The rest is for God to reveal to you as you process your own experience with hospitality and lament.

Artwork by Mission ONE Brand Architec, Charith Denson

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