In the photo, I’m holding the shirt I was wearing at my baptism. Wednesday, the third of August, marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of that day. (The green paint spots are something I picked up a few years later while painting machinery at a factory in Nashville!)
Wednesday the third is notable for another baptism, as well. It’s the feast of St. Lydia, whose story is told in Acts 16. I mentioned her in a previous post.
In her essay, “Opening the Heart to Listen: Becoming Mystics and Prophets Today,” Judette Gallares uses Lydia’s conversion story in describing how we are called to be both mystics (with direct, loving experience of God) and prophets (addressing our world with the word from God). Lydia does this exceptionally well with her practice of hospitality.
Gallares frames it in these terms: “In today’s fragmented world, which is characterized by different levels and degrees of homelessness, our mystic spirit, our sense of ‘belonging to God’ must open us up to others and to the world, to offer ourselves, our communities and our planet earth as a hospitable place for humanity and the whole of God’s creation.”
Gallares, like Lydia, is well aware of the risks involved. Being from the third world (the Philippines)—as well as being a woman—she understands the dangers of violence and terrorism. Still: “All the more we are called to stretch our hearts to create a place for people who do not share our belief, our values, our culture, our background, and points of view. How can we listen with an open heart, willing to understand where the other is coming from? This is the true spirit of hospitality. It is not abrogated when there is danger or differences, but only at that moment proves itself to be genuine hospitality.”
We all experience homelessness to a degree. As humans, we are alienated—we are in a foreign land. As Christians, the waters of baptism carry us to our homeland.