Who Owns the Wind? thoughts on hospitality

My husband has taken up kiteboarding, which is the sport of using a “power kite” (i.e. a 2-string kite big enough to generate power) to be pulled along on a board (skateboard or surfboard, depending of course if you’re on land or water).

I think it’s very cool that he’s doing this. It makes him happy and happy is good. It’s good for the body to train muscles in new ways, and it’s good for the brain to learn a new and rather demanding activity.

Like many sports, the most difficult part is accessibility, which is a combination of place and money. Where can you do this, how difficult is it to get there, and how much does it cost to have the appropriate gear?

Here in Virginia, the best wind is on the beach. Doug was commenting to me the other day about the “localism” of kiteboarders at Virginia Beach. There are self-appointed regulators, folks who live near the beach and feel that they need to control who is kiting there, whether that person will do it correctly, and stop them if they don’t have the necessary skill. Ostensibly this is to prevent someone from flying their kite onto someone’s roof, or causing damage, which would make it difficult for all kiteboarders in the future. Of course, there is also the phenomenon of assuming that, since I’m local, I get to keep the best spot for myself. This dynamic makes it difficult for a new person to break into the sport. Plus, there’s a bit of cherry-picking going on, with the presumption about whose cherries they are in the first place.

It strikes me that this is just human nature in action. We got there first, it belongs to us, we can control it. In a sense, this is natural. This is at the heart of our immigration debates.

But, in talking about this with Doug, it struck me in a new way that in the church we are asking people to do something unnatural. We are asking them to make room for the newcomer, the non-local, the in-expert, the beginner, the one budging in. We are saying “show hospitality to strangers.”

Funny thing, isn’t it? When we talk about following Jesus, the boundary-crosser, it sounds quite sweet and lovely. Suitable for the kids in Sunday School. Yes, Suzy and Johnny, there is room for all. We stand at the communion table and say “All are welcome at this table.”

However, when we’re standing on the beach watching the dynamics of kiteboarders, hospitality sounds quite inconvenient, and even crazy. No, there isn’t enough room, there isn’t enough wind, and Somebody has to be in charge!

That Jesus was such a radical.


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