The Stranger’s Blessing

This is a follow-up to yesterday’s post.

After I wrote about loving other people without condition, not requiring them to meet my expectations and standards before I can love them, I remembered something from the Rule of Benedict. In this ancient rule for life in Christian community, a central practice is that the community always provides someone to stay by the door, day and night. This person was called the “Porter” of the monastery, the doorkeeper. The job of the doorkeeper was of utmost importance. Whenever a stranger, a traveler, came to the door, regardless of the time of day or night, the Porter was to reply to their knock by saying, “Your blessing, please!”

The Porter did not know anything about the person on the other side of the door. Did the traveler believe the same things? Practice the same lifestyle? Live by the standards of the monastic community? Those questions were not asked. The first response was based in a conviction that God sent the stranger so that the community could be blessed by welcoming and providing hospitality. There were no requirements – only that the person be received as if she or he were the Christ in disguise.

We lose the stranger’s blessing if we place conditions on our love.

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