I have many different associations with the word of guest.
- I think about the home that I had in Jerusalem, and really any of the places I have made “home”, my house was always full of guests. We had people sleeping over. If I was cooking for Shabbat, I would never say no. It was great to have guests, to fill the house with other people. To be a place that people felt welcome- actually to be in a place that was not a place that they really felt like a guest.
- I think about all of the times I was/am a guest. I go back to when I was 18 and went to many different places because I couldn’t stay in school for Shabbat. Or I think about now, that I am not really settled and need to find a place to sleep when I finish late at work or want to be near my friends on Shabbat. I think about the fact that I am going to be moving once again to a new community where I don’t know anyone, and so I will be a guest not only in the shul (I’m there only for 4 months) but also I will be a constant guest in people’s homes for meals.
- There is something great about knowing that I have a place to go all the time. But there is something also tiring about constantly being a guest. I have to be better behaved. I must have more energy. I can’t walk around in my PJs all day or sleep in. I need to follow someone else’s rules and figure out what they want. There is a place of indebtedness that I feel (at least with some people). I feel like even though they said yes, I am somewhat an inconvenience to them. I am taking over a public space, or I am an extra person to use the only bathroom in their house. (I pray that I never make my guests feel that way).
- I think about the hospital. I think that in some ways the hospital the patients are guests there. I think even more so, my role as a chaplain is that to be a guest in a patients room, and even more so a guest into their life. I am there to listen, but to listen to the life that they want me to hear. They tell me information that will show me a bit of their life- their loves and hates; their fears; their beliefs; where they live; facts and descriptions of their loved ones; etc. For many, I might only ever see them once- and I get to be brought in a guest to their personal life, without actually being involved.
- This actually was an interesting thing to think about. I want to maybe bring that into the rest of CPE this summer.