In the Doorway
One day Elisha went to Shunem. And a well-to-do woman was there, who urged him to stay for a meal. So, whenever he came by, he stopped there to eat. … Elisha called her and she stood in the doorway. “You have gone to all this trouble for us. Now what can be done for you?” – 2 Kings 4:8-15 excerpts (NIV)
Elisha wanted to repay the woman for her hospitality. She stayed in the doorway, uncertain about whether to accept the gift.
“I have a home among my own people,” she said. She had offered her hospitality freely and didn’t want any reciprocity.
More often than not, we are too proud to accept gifts. We do want to be held, we do want to be thanked, but we don’t want to be “beholden.” There is a difference.
There are many kinds of doorways, front, back, cellar, attic. A good door lets you go in and out. I like to prop my back door open with a stone. Otherwise, I have to put my packages down to get in. Some of my packages I should leave behind. I have stuff in my luggage about being beholden that doesn’t help me. Other times I need to dwell securely with my own people and shut the door.
Some doorways lead to spiritual experience. All doors are good, unless we stand in our own way, uncertain about which way to go.
God, you who give us independence and on whom we may also dare depend, help us know what to do with offers of help, when to say yes and when to say no. Amen.
Donna Schaper is Pastor at the Orient Congregational Church on the far end of Long Island, New York. Her most recent book is I Heart Francis: Letters to the Pope from an Unlikely Admirer.