Here in the Retreat Center office, it seems the phone just won’t stop ringing with people or groups wanting to come on retreat this month. We have revised the August calendar again and again to accommodate the calls. Our big dry-erase board in the office is now overflowing with multi-colored ink, arrows, and shorthand to help us accommodate the additions. But our structured, single-page printed calendar grew so dense that it simply wouldn’t take the names of any more guests. What to do? I simply decreased the font size, and suddenly there was room for everyone.
As I watched additional names – an entire week’s worth – suddenly appear on the computer screen, I realized that my heart, our hearts, can sometimes be like our printed calendar. We can be so structured, so bounded by borders that there is no room for more than we can imagine. We grow so accustomed to everything at its usual size and in its usual place that our hearts cannot accommodate the person who comes knocking in need, whether a neighbor from across the street, or a stranger from across the sea.
In decreasing the font size, the borders of the page did not change. But what happened within the borders did. With each letter engaging in just a small bit of self-effacement, of humility, of stepping aside to give another just a little bit of room, multitudes more were welcomed, and the page, paradoxically, expanded.
Through humility, we do not diminish, we expand. Through generosity, we do not become small, we become rich. The willingness to diminish, and paradoxically expand – or to give, and paradoxically receive – fills one with the fruitfulness of welcome, a multi-hued bounty in which we become more than we can imagine, and in which the blessings of shelter, food, warmth, safety, and the goodness of God’s rich abundance overflow to all.
For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me… Mt. 25:35