Last week I was really looking forward to having some guests round for afternoon tea in my garden. Beforehand, I was feeling like my hospitality was a bit rusty, because of the last year, and so I probably over-planned; making cakes, cleaning, even getting out a table cloth to make sure that everything was perfect. I love having people round, but it’s been quite a long time since we’ve been able to do so.
It turned out to be a lovely occasion (and it only rained a tiny bit) but it was only after the guests left that I noticed something glaringly obvious: I’d left pants hanging in the kitchen. They were on one of those clipped laundry hangers and I hadn’t seen them at all.
Now, I’m not seriously embarrassed by the pants, but I’ve been reflecting on how accustomed we’ve become to just showing a tiny bit of our living spaces on our video screens. It’s been perfectly possibly to hide whole mountains of laundry or even to use our homes in different ways; to never be seen except by the people that live with us.
On the positive side, I hope we’ve become more comfortable in our spaces, more relaxed about imperfection, and have figured out what works best for us in our homes. But I wonder if we will need to build up some courage and vulnerability to share our homes (which are in part a reflection of ourselves) with others as we emerge from lockdown?
Psalm 139 speaks of God knowing everything about us (our messes and our bad habits as well as our secret accomplishments and random acts of kindness) and yet still thinks of us and faithfully stays with us:
You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
As the writer says a bit later, we are ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’. We are created and loved by God, who has been with us in the ups and downs of the year that is past and who will be with us in all the unknown future that is to come, pants and all.