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

Are You Noseblind?

I think by now we’ve all seen the Fabreze commercials about not being noseblind. It’s a unique term and the various scenarios in which persons find themselves “noseblind” are quite funny. ย I hadn’t thought much about this until I met a new friend here in Texas who uses the flameless candle wax melts. Whenever I go to her home it always smells so good! It got me wondering what my home smells like to others when they walk in. What am I noseblind too?

Afraid of what I would find, I too have joined the flameless candle bandwagon, though the generic kinds so Ben can pre-approve sents ๐Ÿ˜‰ Though I can’t say for sure what our home smelled like before – probably a combination of Italian spices, windex, diapers, dog and muddy shoes (who wants to come visit now?) – but I couldn’t smell it. I was noseblind. Now, however, I’m learning to pay closer attention to the whole issue.

With the wax melts, I have learned, is that you don’t want to keep them on all day. You really only need an hour or two in the morning and again in the evening. Also, after about a week or so, you will not notice the scent as much. This isn’t because the wax is losing its scent, it’s because you are going noseblind to it. Time to change up your scents!

How much of life goes the same way. Your workout routine is boring, your diet is unappetizing, your housework is stale, your prayer life is arid. It’s time to change up your scents, your routines. There is beauty in habit and structure, but sometimes we go noseblind, life-blind. This happens even in our prayer lives. Dare I say, especially in our prayer lives.

In the last 6 months, how many of the following have you done or tried to do?:

  • Sat in a different seat at Mass or attended Mass at a different time than your usual routine
  • Told someone you are Catholic/engaged in healthy dialogue with another individual about your faith (the individual may or may not be Catholic)
  • Learned a new prayer of the Church (like the Angelus, the Memorare, prayers for before or after Communion, etc.)
  • Memorized a piece of Scripture
  • Prayed as a family at a time other than before a meal
  • Said a novena or engaged in some form of intercessory prayer for a long period of time (anything longer than a single instance of prayer)
  • Made an intentional sacrifice for another person or cause
  • Gone to Confession
  • Learned about a new saint
  • Read a book that deepened your spiritual and/or theological knowledge

0-2: You could be noseblind in your faith. Your habits are well ingrained and could use some shaking up. If you feel like your faith is in a stagnant place or that God isn’t close, consider trying out one or more of the ideas above to stir things up and discover new fervor and focus.

3-5: Depending on who you are and what things you’ve tried, you may or may not be noseblind. This one is more subjective based on your personal habit patterns and faith life. Are the things you said “yes” to experiences that stretched your faith, or are they part of your typical lived faith? If you were stretching yourself, then you probably aren’t noseblind. If they are part of your normal, you might still reflect on whether your faith life needs some stirring up.

6-8: Wow, I would be pretty confident in saying you are not noseblind. You are actively engaging in your faith, rather than walking through the motions. There is always more we can do to deepen our relationship with God, but it would seem that you have found a variety of opportunities to see Him and grow in your love for Him.

9-10: Amazing! There is no way you are noseblind. You are engaging your faith at all levels, finding God in Scripture, Mass, community, the Sacraments, intellectual knowledge and spiritual knowledge. You must be consistently seeking new ways to grow in your faith and share it.

I hope you found this exercise interesting. I know it was enlightening for me to come up with these categories and answers and realize just how easy it is to become noseblind in our faith.

What other ideas do you have for keeping faith fresh and at the forefront of our daily thoughts and actions?

Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com