I just remember feeling so sad for them that they were out there in the rain.
I was sitting in the pews one day, and of course looking at the notices, and I read the thing about Interfaith Hospitality Network needing overnight hosts. And I realized that although it’s hard for me to do much of anything because I work and I have kids, and it’s hard to find time to do good stuff, that I could actually go somewhere and sleep overnight and do some good, and find the time to do that.
One snapshot moment is the feeling of when you’re spending the night in the church, and you sort of lay there, and it’s sort of cold and foreign and strange, and you’re just there for one night while you keep company with the people that are staying there, and then of course you realize that that’s what they’re doing every night—you know, they’re not in their familiar—they really don’t have a home. So that’s kind of a vignette of how it feels to do Interfaith Hospitality Network.
Well, I think the saddest thing that ever happened is, one of the rules for Interfaith Hospitality Network is that the guests have to be up and out the door by seven o’clock in the morning, every morning Monday through Friday, to get to jobs and school and so-forth—and it’s also a rule of the program. They get up very early in the morning and leave, regardless of the weather. And I just remember one time: this family of four—mom and dad and two kids, two little children—having to get up in the absolute pouring rain, walking to the bus stop to get the bus to go about wherever they were going to go, and I just remember feeling so sad for them that they were out there in the rain …. They were honoring the contract they had with Interfaith Hospitality Network and meeting the rules, but how much I wished they didn’t have to be doing that! And I wasn’t in charge of enforcing that.
One of the things I always find very comical about Interfaith Hospitality Network is, I think St. Martin’s parishioners are so—(they) have such a good spirit, and they’re very generous, and they want to help so much that they often cook very beautiful and elaborate meals—sometimes more elaborate than the guests really want to eat, who are sometimes more a sort of hot dog and hamburger crowd. So sometimes I find it sort of fun looking at a wonderful spread of food, that would be fit for a very wonderful party, and sometimes that goes unappreciated!
When we think about being home, or in our own homes, we often think of having the shelter and the physical structure, and having the comfort of home; but one of the major things about home is you can cook and eat what you like at night for your dinner. And I think that one of the things the guest experiences is that although people go out of their way to cook really terrific food and bring it, it’s not, sometimes, what they’d cook for themselves. And so I think, in addition to all the other aspects of home that people miss is really just control over their own favorites.
I think the thing that strikes you most about Interfaith Hospitality Network is just the tremendous amount of energy that goes into finding living space in churches for these small groups of families, and how there’s so much effort that goes into scheduling the parishioners and organizing this. And sometimes I wonder why, as a society, we can’t get a little bit better organized and just find homes for these folks; it seems like such a—in some ways a real waste of resources when, at a societal level, it seems like a problem we could fix. So I often reflect on that when we’re trying to jostle the schedule and get people organized to do this—it seems like there’s got to be an easier way.
8:00 a.m. Holy Eucharist
9:00 a.m. Holy Eucharist with music
10:00 a.m. Parish Forum & Kairos
10:15 a.m. worship.together
Holy Eucharist for families with young children
11:15 a.m. Choral Eucharist
Silent morning meditation is offered at 8:15 a.m. weekdays, in the Mary Chapel.
We would love to have you join us.
This Episcopal church is located in the heart of the historic neighborhood of Chestnut Hill, five blocks west of Germantown Avenue at the corner of St. Martin’s Lane and West Willow Grove Avenue.