Lately I have been thinking quite a bit about generosity, and gifts, and hospitality. They are all tied together I believe, and you would be hard pressed to find a hospitable person that didn't love to give gifts, or a generous person who wasn't thrilled to share their home and life with others.
There are things we do at certain seasons of our lives, and perhaps the ways we carry through, change and evolve as we do. There are pastimes and relationships in my life, that have faded and disappeared over time. Other people and passions have filled their spaces, and it has been right and natural.
But when kindness, and generosity, and gift-giving, and hospitality leave, I suppose it is right to take a hard look, and not just assume that a season has passed.
Years ago, I was gift giver. I loved to plot, and plan, and create the perfect special gift. And I was an impulsive gift giver as well. I saw that someone loved something, or needed something, and I wanted to give it to them.
Our home was a hub of activity. It was the place where the best parties were thrown, and long dinners were shared. It was a place where the coffee pot was always on, and the door was always open. At times we would arrive home after a day out, and find folks waiting on the porch or in the kitchen. I have awakened in the morning, to find the closest of friends already in my kitchen, starting the coffee or cooking breakfast. There was nothing strange about it. It was how we lived.
And then something changed along the way, and I have never been able to put my finger on why that was. We moved away from close friends and family, so maybe that was the reason. Yet that reason didn't seem to hold true, because we had always made new friends as easily as keeping up with the old ones. We moved to camp, where our job was hospitality, so perhaps we just wanted time off the clock. But even that didn't seem to ring true either.
Recently I realized that I had begun to give gifts again. Small gifts, something of my own that I thought a friend would enjoy. A book, or a movie, or a piece of jewelry. Small gifts of time, and energy, and emotion.
It has been in the giving, once again, that I began to sense the reason for the lack. There are seasons of life that knock the stuffing out of you. They leave you bereft of confidence that you have anything to give, anything any other soul would want to have. When you are asked very specifically to give, you do. Cheerfully and willingly, but tentatively as well. But unless you are specifically asked, you assume that you are not wanted. Not needed.
It becomes a way of life, an ingrained habit, of turning away and into oneself. Just the same as there was once a habit of turning outward and toward others. The old ways will never come back exactly the same as they were. The same friends will never gather in those houses again. Children who used to run and play, are now grown, some with children of their own. We have learned new recipes, for long meals and life itself. Still, I hope that as each day passes, all of my friends, both old and new, know that the coffee pot is on and the door is always open.