We drove all day yesterday through Utah, Arizona, Nevada and on to the coast of California before arriving at a house tucked off of a neighborhood street in Santa Barbara. As we pulled into the driveway, our hosts were waiting to greet us with hugs and introductions as we unloaded our bags and had a tour of the house before sitting down to a dinner of salad, pasta, and garlic bread. After dinner came ice cream and chocolate chip cookies.... so much love in such a short span of time!
Olivia and Brian are the sweet parents of a girl I met at a songwriting retreat a month ago. They didn't know why we were in California, only that we needed a place to stay. We spent dinner asking each other questions and sharing a bit of our stories.
It was well after ice cream that the conversation turned to our upcoming time in Arizona. What has led us to seek and bear witness to the border, immigration, and anything else we have yet to know. We talked about the diversity of this part of California, our immigrant stories, and about our own held stereotypes and pre-conceived beliefs. These are the most beautiful moments of this trip, when we share with one another beyond the surface, when we allow the Spirit to lead and we open our hearts to hear from those we have only just met.
I am continually humbled by the hospitality of a welcoming home. To you it may be a simple bed, couch, or flat surface to sleep, but to me it is a safe place to rest, to recharge, to just....be. Each place is a home away from home, a new stepping stone in this vagabond's travel. I think of Susan in Kansas City, who fed me blue bell ice cream as we sat in her cozy kitchen, of the Falconers in Garden City whose little ratty dog I cuddled with on the floor while we talked late into the night. These new friends don't know how their words of faith and love and challenging questions give me encouragement to press on.
And I think to the houses I am the most comfortable in, the ones where doors are left unlocked and kids are anxiously waiting.... my friends in the midwest who bolstered my confidence before I ever set off for land unknown. Life done with others is rich, beautiful and just....so right.