Together we read psalm 27, which to me is a proclamation of the heart. A proclamation of faith and of the willingness to seek the Lord and live with Him and through Him.
One particular part stood out to me though. As the psalm read: ‘One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord’. Just look around you for a second and notice where you are: in the former church hall of the Stadspark-church Groningen.
‘That I may dwell in the house of the Lord’, what is more beautiful than to read this wish on an evening where we celebrate and welcome the new members to our house, our house that literally was a church.
In everyday life we are accustomed to saying that the church is the house of God. But surely, we cannot say that this house is the house of the Lord just because the bricks that make up these walls once made up walls that housed a congregation? Surely, a house of the Lord means more than that?
But surely, ‘house of God’ should also mean more than ‘building that houses a congregation in function’? It would seem so restrictive to narrow house of God to the status of a congregation.
What then could it mean, this ‘house of the Lord’?
Lately, I was reminded of these beautiful words, well-known as a hymn: ‘Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est’. Where there is charity and love, there God is. Or in Dutch: ‘Waar zorgzaamheid en liefde is, daar is God’.
Where charity (or caring) is…
every morning one of our housemates will ask everyone he sees ‘How do you do?’, and if he hasn’t seen someone in a while he will figure out where they are to check if they’re OK. That is caring to me.
Where charity is…
just outside those doors, next to the street, you will find a small tree surrounded by flowers. These flowers were planted by a group effort of Casa Mundo, to support the bees and liven up the neighbourhood. That is charity to me.
Where charity is…
last year I got the flu pretty badly. I could not go to work, nor study and I just about managed to cross the distance between my bed and bathroom. I was too ill to go shop for groceries and laid in bed the entire day. Even though she had deadlines to work on, one of my housemates cared for me. She made me the soup her mum makes her when she is ill and she bought me groceries and brought me tea in bed. That is charity to me.
Where love is…
Love can be defined in many ways: platonic, romantic, familial and so on. Though, in line with author Glennon Doyle, I’d like to keep with: “Love means: I trust that you know who you are, I see who you are and I celebrate you as you are”.
In a house full of different personalities and many different cultures, it is important that we learn to see, understand and appreciate our differences, so we learn to love others for who they are. Nowadays with our house evenings, we often eat the food with our hands, no cutlery involved. This fits the food that is made and it fits many of us for whom this is the standard way of eating. We appreciate each other as we are.
Some people like to listen to music in the morning, others will practice yoga in the evening and sometimes we hear sounds from each other. We appreciate each other as we are.
Sometimes our kitchens are full of talk and laughter, other times people are cooking together in communal silence. We appreciate each other as we are.
Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est. Where there is charity and love, there is God. We have seen there is charity in our house and we have seen there is love, and the hymn tells us that where these are, God is present.
So it seems that we truly do live in the house of God. Not because of the building and its history, but because we together build a house of God through charity and love.
“One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord”.
And so it is: may all our new housemates dwell in the house of the Lord. May we together dwell in the house of the Lord. And may all of you here tonight, dwell in our house of the Lord.
Meditatie van Elisa Waijers, bewoonster Casa Mundo, ter gelegenheid van de inauguratie van de nieuwe internationals