- Sonya Leigh Anderson
It is a somewhat common practice to choose a WORD for the new year. Last year, at a retreat with adoptive moms, I chose FAITHFUL. I’d been saying this to God: I just want to be faithful. Looking back, I really meant it. 2019 being what it was.
But I wasn’t thinking about words at all, approaching 2020. And yet. This word came to me, unexpected. New Year’s Eve morning, simple praying. I can’t even remember the context. Just lingering, and listening. And then a day later, ironically surprised at my husband’s greeting. His hug and “Happy New Year” and then he said it. “Twenty-twenty. The year of perfect vision.” I didn’t know if I should laugh out loud or roll my eyes.
Because this is how naïve I’d been. The day before. Receiving from God. This word for the new year. VISION. I’m not even kidding. It seemed like His gift at the time. And still does. I’d said it to Him, there in prayer. “Vision” is perfect. The perfect word for the coming year.
And then, right out of the gate, He begins to open my eyes. Shows me things.
I hear a sermon. About hospitality. And I know—it’s for me. Even though. (Another eye-roll.) I’ve been known to say, hospitality is bottom of the list. Of Spiritual Gifts. My own top scores being Teaching and Faith. Many years, thinking I’d best stick with my gifts. Many years, too, comparing to those who do it BETTER.
My mom-in-law, for one. And here I am living under her roof. Through the holiday season. Where more food + more people = the Best Christmas Ever. And did you know Thanksgiving cooking can take an entire month? She is TRULY amazing.
My son’s mom-in-law, too. Grammy Sherri. The first time I met her our kids were high school juniors, going to prom. I remember. AWE. Of this take-charge-woman who planned the event. Every detail. Perfect. Never an inkling she’d one day plan my own son’s wedding!
So I watch and compare and draw my conclusions. This whole hospitality business is Not. My. Gig.
Or is it?
Because here I am twenty-four hours before my husband’s twenty-twenty comment, and God seems to be giving This Vision.
Vision for a new year, with an image to go with it…
An image of a fire.
Stay with me, now…
Eyes closed, no expectations, He shows me this fire, and the Spirit whispers: This fire is love, and hospitality is a warm welcome, and this is My Perfect Vision. For you. This year.
And then. It’s Sunday. The fifth day of the new year, and I’m with Delaney. My Prayer Partner, seventh-grader at church. We’re catching up, and how was your Christmas? She tells me her favorite part is going to Grandma Carlotta’s, and I ask—because I’m a rookie-Grandma—what makes it so special? She answers.
Oh, you know. It’s just her warm welcome…and she always has a fire.
I’m not even kidding.
It’s what I’d heard in that sermon, too. Post-Vision. Hospitality is not the same as entertaining and “radically ordinary hospitality is a warm welcome”—nothing more, nothing less.
And now here I am hopeful-imagining this 2020 year, a home we’ll be building. The home where we’ve already welcomed anyone willing to except our invitation to a sunset fire down at the lakeshore. Crates of stone for a future fireplace, nestled in snow. But more than that. Doors open, warm welcome.
Twenty-twenty Vision. Perfect, this year.