Many years ago we lived in Connecticut, when our children were very young, preschool aged. It was our first experience in New England, a place not known for friendliness and hospitality, and it was a hard time in my life. Annoyance and anger seemed to be just below the surface, ready to bubble up and boil over whenever I felt justified, which was quite often.
We lived in a small town that had few distractions nearby, so we spent a majority of our days at home. Our family was loud and large at this stage, so going anywhere took a great deal of effort. But there was one place that I loved to go as often as I was invited, to Ken and Dawn’s house.
The first time I went there was for a church meeting and I had forgotten the address at home. It was a thirty minute drive through winding roads and at night, my guy was out of town so I was on my own with three little kids in tow. To this day I’m not sure why I felt so compelled to be there. After driving around aimlessly for what seemed like forever, we went straight up a mountainside and found our destination.
As I was getting the kids and the dessert I had made out of the minivan, I dropped the cake into the snow and began to cry. We were late for the meeting, I wasn’t certain I could bring children at all, and the dessert I had made was ruined. I was about to throw us back into the van and go home without anyone knowing we were there. But two men came outside and ushered us into the house, one of those men was Ken.
I remember walking in to a beautiful home that was more than 100 years old, carefully preserved to reflect its heritage. I remember soft candlelight all around, even hanging on the walls of the staircase. I remember a feeling of quiet peace falling over me. The kids felt it too; they were quiet and obedient that night, a small miracle in itself. After the meeting was over, I felt refreshed, all anger and doubt had subsided.
Over the next two years of living in New England we were invited to Ken and Dawn’s home many times, to play board games by the fire and spend lazy summer days in the yard and always to feast with them. I felt safe and at peace there each time. I felt like I could hide there for a few hours with little to no responsibility, and drive away feeling renewed.
I am convinced that Ken and Dawn’s house and hospitality were gifts from God at a time when I desperately needed them. I hope that I can be that kind of servant to someone else when they need it most.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:28-29