I was going into 11th grade outside of Chicago as our family started over again in a new city, new schools, new house. We’d moved to the DC suburbs just two years prior and moved houses between my freshman and sophomore years, as well. When I overheard my parents say the move to Illinois was definite, I excused myself from a dinner banquet to throw up in the bathroom. I never did feel really at home in our Illinois town, and I left for college after two years anyway.
But family was home, and within the walls of every house, duplex and apartment, my parents created a space that made everyone who crossed the threshhold feel like family.
Doors were left unlocked, and high school and college students could count on free haircuts, grilled cheese sandwiches, a listening ear, a place on the couch to watch TV, and big hugs from my tiny mama. It was her brand of hospitality that inspired these lyrics:
Here’s a key to my front door
Got a pillow if you lost yours
You’ve got a seat at my table
You’ve got a home
Here’s somebody who believes you
Let truth remind you
You’ve always got a place to go to
You’ve got a home
I don’t have my parents’ gifts, my hugs aren’t quite as magical, but music has become a way for me to set a table and invite others to grab a chair and share life together.
The table isn’t out on the lawn, but here inside with unfinished walls and mismatched socks in view. Vulnerability is crucial to hospitality. People are most at home in spaces where we recognize ourselves.
We don’t come to connect with trendy rugs and furniture; we come to connect with fellow humans. We don’t love the couch; we love the way the couch makes us feel. We don’t replay a song because it is perfectly crafted but because it makes us feel something, believe something.
Growing in my parents’ house, I understood that being truly seen can change the entire trajectory of a person’s life.
“I love you” can keep a person alive for one more day.
The marvelous truth is that God made humans touchable through something we can only hear. Intangible sound waves tethered to lyrics that peer into our sacred spaces are rooms with unlocked doors. They reflect our very souls back to us.
A great song pulls you in like an old friend and serves you a cup of something both brand new and strangely familiar. You drink it down and believe you aren’t completely solitary after all.
The artist arranges the furniture, lights a candle, pours a drink and opens the door.
Come in, friend!
Talk. Rest. Dance like a kid, or get on your knees and weep. Come and go and come again.
Mi casa, su casa.
Christa Wells is graciously offering one reader an album of their choice. <— click here to select your album. To enter, simply leave a comment below. Giveaway closed Friday, Oct. 2 (U.S. residents only, please)