This month brings with it two instances of Swedishness.
We (my housemates and I) want our house to be a place of hospitality, because we know it is a good challenge to welcome people into your home. There is a level of relationship that is formed when you invite someone in and share food with them. That is different again when they live with you. Hospitality is a value commonly found in many monastic communities, and one that is also at the heart of 24-7 Prayer. I love the way sharing your home pushes you to think about why you live the way you do, and what is important to you. Marie (from Sweden) came to stay with us at the start of May, and my hope is that we will have all learnt and grown during her stay here, and that she will have been as blessed by it as much as we will be.
Jesus talks a lot about welcoming others. He even links the way people treat strangers and those in need with their attitiude towards him. So I think it goes deeper than just being nice. How you welcome others probably says a lot about how you perceive yourself and how you value those around you.
With that bouncing round my head, I come to the second instance. I have recently started working for a Swedish furniture manufacturer/retailer, and a lovely job it is too. It’s been almost two years since I had an ‘ordinary’ job, and I am very grateful to have it. It has come along at the right time I think. What interested me at my induction was the continual use of the word ‘family’. It seems like a whole lot of their values and way of working could easily come under the banner of hospitality and welcome; from the way the store is designed, how the business is run, right down to the products they sell.
I applied for many jobs over the past few months, but the only response I got back was for this one. I’m hoping that they will be able to teach me something about family, because I certainly haven’t got it all figured out. And perhaps I will be able to teach them something too. I am, after all, part of a community that is known for it’s welcome.