In between the Doorbell and the Cheetah Print
“Mark, would you mind carrying the heavy basket of laundry to the bedroom, please?”
It seemed counter-productive to lug away the pile of unfolded clean clothes without finishing them, but I knew that people would be arriving shortly and I wanted the crumpled jeans, rumpled shirts, cheetah print underwear out of the living room.
Stacking mismatched mugs and clanking glasses, I put away the clean dishes and started another load. Slippery salmon-smelling plates clattered as I slid the bottom drawer back into the machine and poured in soft detergent soap. I lit a candle, flung wide the windows, and quickly swept the wood plank floor.
Borrowed books and paper piles lined my desk, covered the dining room cut-out windowsill, and stood tall in several corners of the room. I grinned and nodded. Lego warriors, gold ninjas, and minuscule plastic swords lined the wide living room window mantle, and sunshine stroked yellow light onto long green plantain-leafed houseplants.
“I’m not going to have the house perfectly clean,” I told Mark. “On purpose. I want people to feel welcomed and safe, at ease in a lived-in home. I know too many people who have been afraid to invite people over because they thought their homes needed to be perfect. I want to break that image.”
Shoes still rampaged and queued up in messy rows in the mud room. Curls of dust glowed in the edges of some stairs, but I pulled up sultry jazz saxophone music and ran faucet water up to the silvery tea kettle’s brim.
Calling three newer women at our church and three longer-established women from the church, I left quick texts or breezy messages about a casual spontaneous coffee time at my house. And I had no agenda except to create a place for women to connect, to feel safe, and to build relationships.
This spontaneous adventure in open-door living is special to me, because I’ve seen life unfold over bulging couches, from within green metal patio chairs, and atop flimsy cotton picnic cloths flung across deep green grass. The beauty of relationships and conversations that bud, unfurl, and spread wide delights me, and satisfies holes and hungers deep inside others’ lives too.
While I would still prefer to have the pink panties and the toppling piles of socks put away before you arrive, I am freeing myself to rest on the days when they are not. It’s not perfectly clean, but you are perfectly welcome.
The doorbell rang this afternoon, and I threw open the door. Wind whistled and whined, barreling past the house in a flurry of red and yellow leaves. I poured hot coffee while my new friend swirled and stirred cocoa powder.
Welcome. You are loved. You are enough. You are delighted in by our Abba Dad God. Sighing, I sank into the peace and grace as deeply as my guest did.