It was early August, almost exactly three years ago. We flew into Seattle from Hanoi, after a month of frenetic-paced work teaching English in sweltering heat, and Hannah and Luke picked us up, late at night, and drove us to their house at Greenlake, where we slept.
The images play in my head like a silent film. Seattle was so quiet, so quiet and cool and empty and clean, compared to Hanoi. In my memory the days are cloudy, grey and white. It was a respite.
We slept in a spare room, under a white down comforter. We woke and ate plain yogurt with granola, drank steaming mugs of coffee. At twilight, which didn't happen until late, nine pm, we walked to and then around the lake, and we thought to ourselves, "This is what people in Seattle do." We couldn't sleep, jet-lagged, and we watched episodes of the Office on dvd, on our laptop, in our bed. We gathered our first landmarks, eating at Gorditos, drinking coffee at The Green Bean (RIP), where I copied down this quote, which now hangs in our house:
Hospitality is not to change people, but to offer space where change can take place. It is not to bring men and women over to our side, but to offer freedom undisturbed by dividing lines...
The paradox of hospitality is that it wants to create emptiness, not a fearful emptiness, but a friendly emptiness where strangers can enter and find themselves free; free to sing their own songs, speak their own languages, dance their own dances; free to leave and follow their own vocations.
Hospitality is not a subtle invitation to adopt the lifestyle of the host, but the gift of a chance for the guests to find their own.(Henri Nouwen)
I am not excited about leaving Seattle for the cornfields of Indiana. I'm not. I do believe that it is God's good provision for us. But it makes me cry to think about leaving this beautiful city.