By Andrew Newkirk
“I am so glad you are here.” That phrase I have heard many times since arriving at Koinonia 12 days ago with my daughter Lilian (age 7). (Rebecca, my wife will not arrive for a couple more weeks as she finishes up work back in Minnesota). At first I heard that phrase as a cliche of welcome and hospitality. Then after 4 for 5 days, as I heard the phrase, it became for me an expectation. I would smile, say thanks and think to myself, “I better not mess this up, or they won’t be glad anymore.”
They have kept saying it though. Even just before I started writing this in fact I met one of the members walking across campus and when I greeted her she got got a huge smile on her face like something was funny, but not funny enough to laugh. I asked her what was funny, and she replied, “Nothing. I am just so glad you have arrived and are here,” and I think I am finally starting to hear what it really means.
Maybe I am slow or maybe have some baggage about truly being wanted or welcomed as me, myself, not because of what I bring to the table or can do, but just because I am me. I am beginning to understand that these people in this place really do want me here. They are glad that I bring some grazing skills and knowledge to the table, but that is not why they smile when they see me. They smile because they truly love each other with their baggage and all the way Christ called us to love (John 13:34-35), and they want us to know that same love.
I have spent these early days unpacking our home and setting things in order; a great many more things need to take place and be arranged and sorted out between now and Spring when we plan to relaunch the beef enterprise, but I guess God decided the first thing that needed to be planted deep in my heart.