A few months ago I read a fabulous book by Lauren Winner, Mudhouse Sabbath. A follow-up to her equally interesting memoir, Girl Meets God, which chronicles her journey from Judaism to Christianity, Mudhouse Sabbath is a reflective look back at some of the Jewish practices Lauren realizes are missing from her new life.
One of the chapters that impacted me most dealt with the importance of hospitality. More than just inviting others into our homes, Winner encourages us to open our hearts and lives to others as well. She gives the example of how reluctant she was to invite others to her small apartment, and the reality of what she was saying by her reluctance to do so:
“We are not meant simply to invite people into our homes, but also to invite them into our lives. Having guests and visitors, if we do it right, is not an imposition, because we are not meant to rearrange our lives for our guests – we are meant to invite our guests to enter into our lives as they are. . . . So you see, asking people into my life is not so different than asking them into my apartment. Like my apartment, my interior life is never going to be wholly respectable, cleaned up and gleaming. But that is where I live. In the certitude of God, I ought to be able to risk issuing the occasional invitation.”
This little book reads somewhat like a devotional, emphasizing the intentionality integral to many Jewish customs such as prayer, fasting and Sabbath-keeping. As well it explores ways to honor God where aging, mourning, and the celebration of marriage are concerned. While both Girl Meets God and Mudhouse Sabbath stand alone, it makes sense to read Girl Meets God first. If you could only purchase one of them though, I think Mudhouse Sabbath is a keeper.