The truth of the matter is that we happen to live in one of the most fantastic cities in the world. I'm just saying. The up-side is a list so long, I won't even start counting (I really do love where I live). The down-side, however, is that the rest of the world tends to agree.
We also happen to work for an organization that is incredibly well connected-- where you can meet a stranger from the other side of the world, and chances are, you know some of the same people. It happens all the time, and it's really fun.
Well, when you put those two wonderful ingredients into a recipe together, what often happens is that we get requests from people we've never met, asking if their student, their brother, or they themselves can come and stay with us as they visit one of the most fantastic cities in the world.
It's a dilemma.
I'm not saying that it happens every week, but I do have the sneaking suspicion that if we were the loving, open, generous people we should be, our air mattress might never get deflated, and our living room/dining room/office/family room/foyer would be converted into a guest bedroom. Or a Bed & Breakfast, minus the payment.
I realize that I sound like a horrible person. At this particular moment (after sending an email off to a friend of a friend in Germany whose student is visiting San Francisco), I feel rather guilty. My assumption is that these lovely people who send these requests would offer up their homes if asked. I imagine that they already have a menagerie of international students & friends crashing at their house even as they write their email to San Francisco.
I also have this deep belief that one of the keys to life is being generous with what I have been given-- being open with my life, my home, my possessions & my time. I have a romantic image in my mind of becoming the type of little old woman who opens her arms to the people around her, and spends her days making cookies for the neighborhood children. People say that I am a gifted hostess-- sometimes they even throw in the term "Spiritual Gift", which makes the guilt all the greater each time I send off an email politely saying "No".
But the truth of the matter is that we are busy. Our jobs require a ton of emotional & relational energy, and oftentimes, when we get home at the end of the day, we really need some time & space to ourselves. Our little one bedroom apartment sometimes feels cramped with just the two of us (and the giant pit bull) in it, and living in a loud urban environment transforms the relative quiet of our home into a sanctuary.
Within the next year or so, we are hoping to move into a bigger home. We have big dreams of even having a guest bedroom (imagine!). But the question popped into my mind, that if and when we do have this dream bedroom, what will we do with the requests from friends of friends of friends who are stopping by our city for a week and need a place to stay? If we were given a gift as big as a guest bedroom, can we in good conscience politely suggest a local hostel?
When I ran these plaguing questions by Chris this morning, he decreed that it was too early to be thinking about something that distressing. I suppose we'll have to cross that bridge when we come to it. I do, however, want to grow in generosity & openness, and to be gracious even with the little space that we have.
Maybe next time... ;)