A Place for Guests – Your Guest Space

While not every home may have a designated “guest room,” most families have some kind of space or plan for how to host guests. In our home, our guest space is multi-functional. When we do not have one of our parents (our most frequent guests – hooray for grandparents!) staying with us, the guest room serves as a sewing/weaving/film scanning/3-D printer/violin practice/overflow storage room. That’s quite a lot for one room. Whenever I am preparing for someone to come stay, I usually end up in the middle of it and wonder, “Where am I going to put them with all the stuff in here!?”

No matter how multi-functional your guest space is, there are things you do when you know someone is coming. I can recall whenever my own grandmother would come to stay we always had to clean the bathroom. It didn’t matter if it had been cleaned the day prior, my mom always (at least it felt like always, she may say differently) had to have the bathroom clean. I have a little mental checklist I try to get through at least 24 hours before a guest arrives. It goes something like this:

  • Clean the bathroom (surprised?)
  • Dust the guest room
  • Verify the sheets are clean
  • Clear off the table as much as possible to allow for guest use
  • Tidy room as much as possible, lament over how crammed it is, wish I had better storage solutions, try to cram the yarn boxes deeper into the closet, remember the closet doors won’t close because of the looms in the way, straighten the bed covers again because I can at least make that presentable, close the door and say it’s good enough.

It’s not perfect, obviously.

There’s another kind of guest I’d like to consider. So far, I’ve been thinking about the planned guest. What about the unplanned or spontaneous guest? What do you do when you child wants to have a playdate or you think it would be nice to have a family over for a weekend bbq? Depending on when you make those plans, you may or may not have time to overhaul your house.

When we lived in California, I dreaded having anyone over. I felt like our home was never clean enough, that I wasn’t prepared enough. I did not have a good system of cleaning and staying on top of things. I was easily overwhelmed with the prospect of hosting someone. I wanted to be the person who had it all together. Standing on the corner talking with a neighbor, playing at the park with a friend, the facade could stand. But to come into our home it would quickly crumble – at least from my perspective. I am a little sad to look back at that time, to see my lack of confidence in who I was and that I was enough, even if my home was quite less than magazine worthy (spoiler alert, it still isn’t magazine worthy). I know there are some friendships that I did not cultivate as I could have because of these doubts.

Back in 2010, the English version of the Roman Missal underwent a translation overhaul. One big change came during the Eucharistic Prayer. After singing the Lamb of God, we kneel. The priest elevates the Body and Blood of Jesus as says, “Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.” In the old translation, we said, “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you. Only say the word and I shall be healed.” Today, this response has changed to mirror the words of the Roman centurion from Matthew 8:5-8 who said, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof. Only say the word and my servant will be healed.” The faith of the centurion was so great, Jesus healed his servant on the spot, not needing to go be physically with him.

When we echo the words of the centurion, we are placing ourselves before Jesus, asking Him to heal us even in our brokenness. Even though our homes and hearts are not perfect, our checklists not complete to welcome him. We acknowledge our unworthiness. St. Paul says it more eloquently than I ever could: “But God proves His love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). And again, “All have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God. They are justified freely by His grace through the redemption in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:23-34).

Jesus does not say, “Get it together, then I’ll come over.” Yes, we are sinners. We are broken. But we are not lost. Jesus is the best kind of guest if we just let Him in. He will help us with our daily tasks, He will encourage us when times are tough, and no matter the mess, He will never leave us in our neediness. It doesn’t matter whether we’ve cleaned under the beds or not.

We are entering Holy Week. We’ve gone through most parts of our homes, considering how the function both physically and spiritually. As we transition to these holiest of days, the Church invites us into her home in a unique way. For each of the days of Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday), once a year liturgical experiences are celebrated. We are entering the heart of our faith, the Paschal Mystery which is Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection.

Every year we celebrate these sacred mysteries. Jesus didn’t wait for the world to be ready before He came to save us. Every year we are invited to delve deeper into this gift of salvation, to invite Jesus to a more intimate relationship within us. Every day we have the opportunity to welcome Jesus into our home, but these days of Holy Week are exceptional.

This week, instead of focusing on our physical homes, take the time you have been using with these reflections to spend time on your spiritual home. Have you invited Jesus into your heart? Take Him on a tour of the work you’ve done these past weeks. How have you grown? Where do you need His mercy, His strength or His tenderness? Think about the Triduum days from last year. What liturgies did you attend? Stretch yourself and plan to attend one more than last year. Embrace these days and the spiritual drama that is unfolding. These days are one big story and we are invited to enter into it.

Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com

They’ll be here any minute!

Everyone knows the feeling. Company is coming for dinner, the bathroom still needs to be cleaned, floors are barely swept and you are frantically changing the baby’s diaper explosion. Ok, so maybe notย everyone knows that specific scenario but insert your own life experience and I’m sure you’ll get the picture.

Anyway, that was us to a a certain degree today. It seems to me that I am the most efficient cleaner in those few minutes before the doorbell is expected to ring. Also, I must have a second set of eyes, because I am able to much more clearly see all the things that need to be cleaned or dusted that apparently I was unable to discern just days prior. It’s rather embarrassing really. We are capable of being much more prepared.

Maybe you’re not like me. And if you aren’t like me, I’m rather jealous of you. If you aren’t like me, then you sweep and vacuum your floors often, and if you happen to have a dog that likes to roll around in the dust and dirt then you sweep and vacuum multiple times a day. You also don’t have a 4 year old boy using your bathrooms. And you have some kind of stain and grease resistant kitchen counter tops that don’t require constant scrubbing.

I’m being sarcastic of course. I know that there are people out there who are much better cleaners than I am, and I’m sure somewhere there is someone who is a worse cleaner (maybe). Regardless, I am always amazed at how much cleaning I get done before someone comes over. Amazed and dismayed. If I can clean this well and quickly before someone comes to my house, why can’t I do it all the time?

9GDUA0UARDAs I was musing on this while sweeping the floor this afternoon, wishing I was more prepared, I thought about how I’m not the only one with this kind of problem. In fact, there were people with my same or similar issue all the way back to Jesus’ time. Think about it, especially as an issue of preparedness. Jesus tells a parable about 10 virgins waiting for the bridegroom to arrive. 5 were wise and prepared, bringing extra oil with them just in case the bridegroom was late. 5 were not so wise. When the bridegroom did arrive, late, only 5 women had enough oil to light their lamps.

Cultivating a habit of preparation might be in order for our household. Rather than frantically piecing together the house, we are very capable of systematically keeping order, if we make it a priority.

Jesus told His disciples that He would return again, and the early Christians believed that His second coming was imminent. Time has continued to pass and we are still waiting for Jesus to come. The Church hasn’t changed it’s stance on this, we are in fact still waiting for Jesus to return. Even though so much time has passed, our level of preparation should not be any different than those early Christians.

Just like our physical houses need to be kept clean and orderly, so do our spiritual houses, our inner selves. Do we pray regularly? If we do pray, are we taking time to listen to God as well as speak to Him? Do we spend time in quiet reflection, contemplating how we make decisions and discerning the direction of our lives? Do we belong to a worshiping community that helps us stay accountable to the morals and virtues espoused by our faith? Do we share our faith with others, especially our spouse and children?

Personally, I believe that when I have good spiritual habits and practices, it is easier for me to keep other areas of my life, my home included, in good order. What do you think?

Feel free to leave comments and join in the conversation! =)