Archive for February, 2013

On Hospitality…

Its 5AM and I am perched comfortably in a private third floor bedroom belonging to a lovely stranger named John. I met John on Friday (its Sunday) when I moved into his beautiful Montclair, NJ home for the weekend.

John's House

John’s Home

I met John through Air BnB https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/596487. Air Bed and Breakfast is an internet platform that allows every day people to open their homes to serve as bed and breakfasts. It is the sort of thing that allows a traveler, like me, to experience the comfort of home away from home; typically at a fraction of the cost of a hotel.

When I arrived at John’s on Friday evening there were four strangers sitting around a fire-place with red wine, fine cheese, good music and conversation. There was Katie from Connecticut, in town for a funeral; Matthias, the Swedish executive, in town for work; John, our host, who used to be in the zoo business; and Phineas, an eleven year old greyhound who lovingly rested his head in my lap as soon as I sat down to join them. And there I was also, Kim, an African American Yogini, in town for a yoga intensive training weekend.

John's living room

John’s living room

It was a lovely meeting in a lovely home, we shared stories and small pieces of ourselves. At one point I heard Matthias say that it was so nice to be half way around the world, yet sitting in a comfortable home around a warm fire.

I grew up hearing told: “be careful how you entertain strangers because you may be in the presence of angels.” My mom used to say that to me and her father used to say that to her. I realize now that this is scripture. Specifically Hebrews 13:2 says: “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”

Hospitality is an ancient virtue and a gift; ancient hospitality codes actually required people to offer food, shelter and protection to travelers along the way. My great grandparents Bessie and James understood this. They opened their Tennesee farm on countless occassions to poor black farmers who needed a warm meal and a place to stay in the 1920’s and 30’s. Similarly my grandparents, William and Jessie Bell, opened their two family home in Ohio to boarders and factory workers from down south who were transitioning and looking to make a life for themselves up north during the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. And in the 80’s they became foster parents.

Showing kindness to a stranger is a radical gift but a lot of us dont get that. When we were children we were taught to be afraid of strangers and as adults many of us have adopted that as a way of life.

But, alas, we are a nation going through changes, as Common says. Many of those changes revolve around our plummeting economy and they will feel like growing pains if we allow them to. But we are a young and interesting country and once we cut back the excess, what’s left are interesting and diverse people, great music, a warm fire, sharing, and maybe some fine cheese.


John has invited me to stay an additional night, we are going to watch the Oscars together.

Sidney Poitier

Sidney Poitier

© Copyright Thank You Very Sweet, 2013

Read Full Post »


Yoga has a sexual ethic embedded into one of its 8 limbs. The sanscrit word is Bramacharya, and it means something to the effect of “be chaste.” Its challenging to provide an exact translation to this 5,000 year old teaching because, much like with hebrew and greek translations of the Bible, we dont always have the right words in modern english for true interpretation of ancient language. In my interpretation, this teaching means that sexual restraint can be positive and powerful – not because sex is bad – but because sex is powerful and should not be engaged in if it can cause harm to you or another.

Thinking of sex as powerful (and not bad, sinful, shameful, whatever) is refreshing. As a minister, this old wisdom teaching is a gift to me. I am saddened by the absence of intergenerational conversations about sex in church and in other faith traditions. The ubiquitous silence is harm causing in my oppinion.

Brahmacharya gives me a conversation starter.. 🙂

If you’re reading this, just ponder it – if sex is powerful, how might we harness and cultivate that power within our bodies when we excercise sexual restraint? How might harnessing that power make us powerful in other aspects of life? and how might harnessing that power make its release that much more magnificent when we choose to engage in sex with a loving partner with whom we have established commitments and agreements? Can we entertain attraction without subsequent action? What would a society with a different relationship with sex and sexuality look like?

I’m just sayin…

© Copyright Thank You Very Sweet, 2013

Read Full Post »