We arranged the tables lengthwise in the living room, similar to the Thanksgiving set up. Yeun brought all the supplies – the rocks and soil and sand and a beautiful spread of succulents. I reviewed several mental lists while we waited for the subway at Broadway Junction after work – chocolate chip cookie plans, decorations, and something for dinner. I was nervous about who would come and if they would bring food and if our preparations would flop.
I rushed in like a tornado to the apartment. It’s pretty standard, I guess. All the day’s bottled up energy gets shoved into 1.5 hours leading up to party show time… and this party was especially wonderful because we were throwing it with our neighbor Yeun. Somehow, she tracked down supplies for 20+ people to make terrariums and then she taught us all how to be terrarium making professionals.
My living room looked like a movie set for a miniature world, with inch-high boy scouts and bicyclists and tiny animals strewn about over the moss on the table. But it also looked like friends and strangers and neighbors bent over jars, vases, and fish bowls – getting dirt under their fingernails as they mastered the art of terrariums.
The apartment tours took 5 seconds and they always keep me humble. Yep, just the two rooms. Mmmhm, the walls are always this bare. Oh, this bench you are sitting on? That’s a shelf system we found for free and then converted for seating.
But no one cared because the laughter was the right volume. There was a miniature lady crawling up a cactus wall and a miniature boy scout troop walking on a forest path. There were fresh baked cookies and homemade Reese’s bars and the perfect new crowd of people huddled around tables making little worlds inside of glass.
I was tired and I won’t pretend otherwise. I am hosting a dear friend from Honduras and juggling the normal transit struggle, fighting the NYC frown face and trying to make this giant city a little smaller.
But, I just love hosting other people’s joy.
I love when people buzz my apartment and I love pushing the “door” button to let them inside. I love leaving my door open and I love when people walk through the entryway. I love when guests have to share a seat and I love when the joy pushes against the cold on the windows. I love when strangers are friends and when neighbors come over in slippers and I love when people can leave with something in their hands.
After we had tidied and rearranged when the last guest left, I sat down for the first time since 4:30 pm. It was probably after midnight and my feet were making me feel old. It was a tired satisfaction, but the whole night was kind of a blur.
I love hosting other people’s joy, but I don’t do it perfectly. I get stressed and snap and escape to the kitchen to wash dishes. Last night, before I settled into sleep, I read my evening devotional and this is what it said,
“See to it that sitting at the Savior’s feet is not neglected, even though it is under the specious pretext of doing Him service. The first thing for our soul’s health – the first thing for His glory – and the first thing for our own usefulness – is to keep ourselves in perpetual communion with the Lord Jesus, and to see that the vital spirituality of our piety, is maintained over and above everything else in the world.” – Charles Spurgeon, Morning and Evening Reflections
And my soul said, yes. Yes to parties and hosting and community and fellowship… but first yes to sitting at the Savior’s feet. The formers are much more beautiful in proper submission to the latter.