I’ve gotten a few new subscribers recently (thank you so much!), which is super fun, and I’m wishing I would have posted more in August and September. A LOT has happened.
Hospitality implies process. You don’t know what the guest will do, you can’t control the situation, and there’s always give and take. The guest is supposed to bless you as well as receive from you. The guest can be, must be, loved by you without needing to be just like you. The joy and blessing of hospitality, the truth of hospitality, comes not from some end result, but from the experience itself. In the actual process, koinonia [fellowship] happens, Christ is present and the gifts multiply. Surprise.
–Michelle Hershberger, A Christian View of Hospitality
So if you follow me on Instagram, you may have noticed that a fourth little girl is often tagging along with us on homeschool mornings. We’ll call her K, and her presence in our home the last month is nothing short of a miraculous, specific and utterly thrilling answer to prayer.
In my post about living in Detroit I shared that we live a scant four miles from the only official Charlotte Mason school in the state of Michigan. We almost enrolled by oldest daughter Ellary this fall, but last spring, when we were praying through the decision and working out the financial details, I began to sense that something wasn’t right. I imagined all the narrations I wouldn’t get to hear, all the connections I wouldn’t get to watch snapping into place, all the books I wouldn’t end up reading. It’s a tremendous school that we love and support, and I would have been extremely involved there as a parent and maybe even more, but in the end, we decided not to move forward with it.
It was God’s decision, it was a financial decision, it was a decision Kevin and I made together–but truly, it felt like my own selfish decision. Our number one reason for considering this school was our belief in the benefit of its presence in the community. It is a radical alternative to the rather bleak (but improving!) educational landscape in this city. We want to be apart of that kind of thing. We want to send our kids to an excellent school with their neighbors. Integration and multi-ethnicity are often missing links when it comes to education reform. What’s more, I don’t want my big old house on a little city lot to become a place of isolated privilege, which only directly benefits my nuclear family. And homeschooling is an immense privilege that should never be taken lightly (I particularly like Lindsy’s post on the subject).
I was a bit befuddled. When we started the enrollment process, it had felt like a done-deal in my mind, and then all of a sudden, we were strapped in for another year of homeschooling. I was pumped, of course, because if we were just talking about what I want, then everything was lovely.
But we’re not just talking about what I want, and after the final decision was made, I began to feel so ill at ease, so heavy, as I thought about my place in this city. So many people are moving back into Detroit, buying foreclosed homes, flipping them, making everything pretty. A lot of those people are going to make ridiculous amounts of money on their investments. If we were to sell our house right now, we would make an obscene (and I do actually mean obscene) amount of money on it.
I know that’s not why we’re here. But do my neighbors know that? Am I doing anything at all to show people that I’m not here because it’s trendy and lucrative? Are we making things easier for our neighbors who’ve been here for 30 years…or making it harder?
These are the questions that haunted me when we re-upped for another year of homeschooling. So I started praying. Well, first I staggered around blindly, groping for some sort of action step to make me feel better. Then I gave up on that and started praying. Praying that I would meet more homeschooling families IN the city, praying for a chance to share my passion for education with someone somewhere…anything.
Three weeks into our new homeschool year, I met a woman (we’ll call her M) that had recently moved in across the street. My jaw dropped when she told me she homeschools her 7-year-old. I was ecstatic. I practically squealed, “We should be friends!” She smiled serenely and agreed. She also told me that she was having major problems with her health–a concussion from 4 years earlier hadn’t healed properly and she was having chronic nerve pain and migraines. On top of this, she is a single mom with a new (old) house to care for and a 5-month-old baby boy. I knew when I walked away from that conversation that I was going to offer as much help and friendship to her as I could. I took her daughter K on a field trip with us a few days later. By Labor Day, M had asked if K could tag along with us during our homeschool days while she heals.
K will be with us Monday through Thursday mornings at least until Thanksgiving, and her presence in my home is nothing short of an ebenezer for me, “a commemoration of divine assistance.” She is proof that God cares about me, He cares about M and K, He cares about our homeschool, He cares about Detroit, and He is involved. We’re offering some stability and friendship and reading lessons to K in a difficult time, but she is offering us real relationship in this city. Her mom and I keep saying to each other, “Thank you…no no, thank you.” I just keep marveling at what God can do in six months.