Wednesday, September 30 – “I needed welcome and wasn’t good at being welcomed.”
Some years ago George Herbert’s “Love Bade me Welcome” (1633) reminded me of Marion Sweetser. Marian lived in Minneapolis, a widow with 6 or 7 children and loads of grandkids. One day in summer 1965 I and 3 other young Jesuits showed up at her door. We were driving from Wisconsin to Pine Ridge South Dakota to begin the year’s teaching at Red Cloud Indian School and she cooked lunch for us. The 25 year old she saw at her doorstep was a wreck — underweight, on the verge of colitis, intense. Marian recognized instantly that I needed welcome and wasn’t good at being welcomed. She was a master at both and that day began a magical friendship. For 25 years I stopped by any chance I could to spend time with Marion. Until she died, in her nineties, in 1994.
Over and over these days of Cuba and the US welcomed Francis in any way its peoples could: elected officials in Havana and Washington, homeless women and men, children, prisoners and refugees, huge crowds who seemed to love waiting . . . . welcoming Francis. Or was Francis welcoming all these people so that these crowds of people learned a bit more about how to be welcomed by someone with the soul of welcome in his bones? Or was the Pope stepping up our welcome by reminding us that perhaps the bravest form of hospitality ito allow ourselves to be welcomed into other people’s places, to be received with the resources of the people of those places == “elected officials in Havana and Washington, homeless women and men, children, prisoners and refugees.” Who welcomes whom? That might be the most important take-home from the Pope’s days on this side of The Atlantic.
Today’s Post: “love bade me welcome”
Love bade me welcome; yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-ey’d Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning,
If I lacked anything.
‘A guest,’ I answer’d,’ worthy to be here’:
Love said, ‘You shall be he.’
‘I, the unkind, ungrateful? Ah, my dear
I cannot look on Thee.’
Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
‘Who made the eyes but I?’
“Truth, Lord, but I have marr’d them; let my shame
Go where it doth deserve.’
‘And know you not,’ says Love, ‘who bore the blame?’
‘My dear, then I will serve.’
‘You must sit down,’ says Love, ‘and taste My meat.’
So I did sit and eat.
George Herbert 1633