Since I was very small I have memories of the people of our spare room. Brothers and sisters of humanity who became ours for a time while they healed from their wounds, recovered from their losses and made their way back out into God’s earth. Dozens of people, maybe even over a hundred at this point have been a part of the spare room ministry of my family.
My parents are divorced, but separately I recall them both taking in men and women in need, on the cusp of falling into the cracks of poverty and becoming lost. One family that lived with my mother was losing their mother to cancer. The money and time was all taken by caring for her, and the children needed more support. So, mom opened her heart and hearth to the four of them, helped to coparent their children, helped the family mourn when the woman passed away and let them live there until they were ready to take care of themselves once more.
At an earlier point, she took in Bob. He was one of my brother’s best friends. He was also the boy I first went on a date with and first kissed. At which point we realized we were way too brother-sister in our relationship to ever be any type of romantic relationship. So my “brother from another mother” became my brother in truth, and when his family struggles led him into hard times he became a spare room dweller.
My father and stepmother had the same pattern. A shirttail cousin became like a sister. An employee became their daughter. Their spare room was in their basement and at Sunday dinner you never quite knew who was gonna come walking up those stairs.
I will never forget having lunch with my father and brother, some years into our adulthood and my father making some offhand comment about how my brother and I were always, “taking in strays.” By this time my husband and I had established our own spare room and my brother and his wife had theirs. My father said the comment as if it startled him that we would do this, and my brother and I scoffed. We looked at Dad and said in unison, “We come by it honestly.”
Last night our spare room once again became a temporary home, this time for a friend of our son’s whom we met through church camp. It is a beautiful thing to be able to turn to my child and say, clean up the bedroom and watch your brother while I go get him. No questions asked, though plenty of prayers said. It is a God thing that we have been given. To be privileged to have enough, to have the spare room and the heart for God’s children to share it.
Bob passed away a few years ago while overseas on a tour of duty. I still think of him with a mixture of sadness that he’s gone and joy that he was a part of my life and family. His widow and children are my friends, though distant. My brother spoke at his funeral. I don’t know about living in the clouds, I’m more of an Earthly universal heaven believer. But where ever he is, I feel him with me today as the spare room is full once more.
Prayers for all those who need a community of support, that they may be enabled to become the embodiment of Jesus’ plan for them. Prayer for all of those with a spare room ministry, that they may have the strength and courage to be Jesus’ embodied in the world.