After a week in Brazil I now have a pause day to catch my breath and to reflect on some of the experiences I have been graced with. My friend Trevor taught me that experiences not reflected on will be lost. So I am going to reflect publicly here. I do this for at least two reasons. First, because I want to honour the people who are mentioned in these experiences and secondly, because I think some of these experiences might be helpful to others. A third, silently-running- in-the-background-reason has to do with some of my own narcissism (you already knew that).
The reason I have been to Brazil is a friendship with Eduardo Pedreira. We met at a Renovaré retreat in 2008 and got to know each other in a deeper way during the International Renovaré conference in 2009. At that conference we spent hours talking about our passions: Jesus, spiritual formation and the similarities between South Africa and Brazil. In 2010 Eduardo invited me to partner with him and Renovaré Brazil to kick off a spiritual formation journey for Brazilian pastors. It was an amazing trip. Last week I went back in order to share some of our “rhythm of life” learnings and to help facilitate a retreat.
When I reflect on my Brazil trip I think of my experiences with specific people. Eduardo, Márcia, Jim, Dadal, Duda, Keira, Joao, Sylvia, Aaron and Katie and many others. All of these people were part of my Brazilian adventure but today I want to highlight some reflections on Eduardo and Márcia.
Entering someone’s home is a sacred journey. To be allowed into the inner sanctum is a privilege. One of the aspects of visiting Brazil that I love is the fact that hospitality does not get outsourced to the pros. Sleeping in a hotel does not exactly shout out hospitality and “you are welcome”. (I know sometimes it is the only practical solution). Sleeping in people’s actual homes invites one into a relationship that advances beyond superficialities or functionalities. Homes foster togetherness, you are together, all the time. This builds relationships.
Now to host someone in your home is a burden. Period. It is hard work and an invasion towards cross-bearing. It takes sacrifice. What I love about Eduardo and Márcia is the grace with which they open their home but also the honesty they have in not minimising the toughness of doing so. Eduardo explained it to me this way, “it is a burden to host people, but it is a burden I choose. I want you to be a burden and do this for you”. I find this refreshing on two accounts. It is honest, and it goes against the grain of choosing a life that is not burdened.
I recently read a good reflection on how our culture has changed in regard to this whole aspect of “carrying each others burdens”.It has to do with the way in which we thank each other. These days when two people have an exchange after one person helped the other, the response will usually be “no problem”. The message that subtly creeps into our subconscious is that I am willing to help you if you don’t become a problem or bring your problems. In other words if you don’t burden me. The article I read contrasts the “no problem” response with the “you are welcome” response. Eduardo and Márcia embodies the “you are welcome” response. It engages honestly with the sacrifice of hospitality but communicates clearly that there is welcome in the opening of their home, that they choose you.
I find this refreshing because in so many levels I don’t want to be a burden for someone else – which is a sick symptom of a hyper-individualistic culture. Part of our journey towards wholeness is learning to carry another’s burden and to allow others to carry yours. This is hard … do you agree?