Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
James 1 v 12
Some folk write in the margins of time and others live in the margins, whether that be through homelessness, substance abuse, unemployment or disability. Living in the margins is a hard and often times lonely road which can be made worse by "seeing" others live a charmed existence; one only has to scroll through a Facebook feed or scour a Pinterest board for such evidence.
Living in the margins is an SAS training ground for those willing to accept a challenge and the "green beret" is in fact the crown and eternal prize talked about in the book of James. We are running the race set out before us and it is a one man competition! Each track is pertinent to one individual only and so their is little gain in looking left or right or even over your shoulder! It is a case of keep your head down and keep going!
Even if it is impossible to find your tribe within your own physical community, the internet has made the world a smaller place and through careful consideration real friendships can be forged and sustained across the miles.
In an ideal world I would share a cup of tea with my friend Sue after having had an early morning walk in the Australian Bush. We would chat about self directed learning and she would reassure me not to worry about Benedict and that everything will turn out OK.
With a hop, skip and a very big jump I would land in Houghton, New York State just in time for lunch with my dear friend Eva! We would chat about life in general and if her husband Peter were home from campus I am sure he would keep us entertained with his sense of humour! The family Christmas letters are funnier each year :-)
Of course if I am going to be in New York then I absolutely have to visit my friends in the big apple. We were fortunate to have Chanda stop with us for a few days last summer and that girl lives, eats and breathes ballet! I would enjoy observing one of her dance classes, we would have tea at Chocolate Bar and take a walk along the high line admiring the view over the Hudson River.
There is a friend who I have yet to meet who graciously opened her doors and her heart a few years ago in welcoming our daughter Sara to her home in the Scottish Isles. We might be separated by land and sea but our faith is the tie that binds us. A light of a candle and an arrow prayer said in the early hours might seem insignificant to some but to those suffering in the margins it is priceless.
Thankfully we are blessed to know a real life home schooling family and what began as a tentative internet connection has blossomed into a sustainable friendship. Not for nothing is that gal known as sustainable mum. She has a great love of the outdoors, frugality and growing your own. Lunchtimes are peppered with food from her back garden and she doesn't quell at the thought of catering for whacky dietary needs! Our physical abilities might be poles apart but there is never any sense of inadequacy on our part; we love hearing about their wild camping adventures and all things craft related really unites that bond.
Sometimes those on the margins might be the folk you live with day after day. It is easy to reach out a hand to a stranger but it can be a challenge when it is much closer to home. This can be especially hard in a caring role where the work done is often unseen and therefore unappreciated in the context of the wider world. We have only to look at the proposed goverment cuts to ascertain exactly what is of "value" and yet without the input of unpaid carers our society would be socially and financially poorer.
The heart of hospitality is finding people in the margins and bringing them in; what can you do to help someone on the margins today?