I first met Kallie during our seminary’s orientation – with both southern accent and charm she handed me her calling card as she introduced herself, and I was excited because she was the kind of southerner I’d hoped to meet in Texas. As our first semester moved along, I quickly came to understand that she was more than my simple pre-conceived notions. She’s a people-person, she’s outside-the-box brilliant, she’s grossly generous and, most importantly, she embodies Christian hospitality. That last one is what I admire so much about her: with open arms and heart she welcomes strangers into her life without complaint. She seeks to entertain angels and she prepares tables with bountiful feasts of love.
I heard the song “Crowded Table” by The Highwomen the other day and I immediately thought of my friend. The song’s chorus rings out: “I want a house with a crowded table / And a place by the fire for everyone / Let us take on the world while we’re young and able / And bring us back together when the day is done.” For me, this is Kallie, and this is her hope for the Church. She wants the table in God’s house to be crowded with people who love and care for one another, and she is doing her best to bring Heaven to earth in the here and now at her table. She has friends and acquaintances and strangers over for dinner. She brings people together who would never find reason to speak. She gives herself to those around her. Kallie gives me hope.
She gives me hope that there are ways for us to come together in spite of our differences. She gives me hope that we can take on the wrongs of this world and make them right. She gives me hope that a little hard work can produce great, life-giving benefits. And Kallie gives me hope for the Church. She – and others like her – are so desperately necessary. In spite of the hatred and divisiveness in this world, she has shown me – and continues to show me – that it is possible to love the stranger, to invite others in, to be Christ in this world. She reminds me that there are others just like her who are exceptionally giving, who extend goodwill, who unconditionally entertain guests, visitors, and strangers.
The world needs more hospitality…the world needs more Kallies: people who work to make their tables crowded…people who make space by their fires…people who do the work needed to bring Heaven to earth. Thank you, Kallie, for feeding the hungry, for giving drink to the thirsty, for welcoming the stranger. I pray that we can all be a little more (or a lot more) like you, seeking out ways to serve Christ in the here and now.
much love. sheth.