As a very young child, we lived in an apartment in Beirut, Lebanon on a school campus (BBS, Beirut Baptist School). My parents had started this school in the garage of the apartment building which ran parallel to a main thoroughfare leading to Beirut’s old downtown.

A narrow strip of an alleyway extended like a canal between the busy street and the apartments’ side kitchen balconies (a must in our part of the world). The tall wrought iron fence slicing the path between the alleyway and the street was barely visible under the hot-purple canopy of a sprawling bouganvilla vine. Following beneath this glorious arbor, I could take a sharp left at the corner of our building and find myself under the broad leaves of a row of gnarly fig trees. The barrier of trees and vines muffled the traffic noise and under its protection, we played!

One summer, a new family moved into our building and temporarily plopped their wooden shipping crate in “our” magical secluded spot. My older sisters and their friends immediately absconded with this ready-made playhouse and repurposed it into an exclusive club! Promptly, the ratty, worn-out, bristly welcome mat rescued out of the rusty trash barrel, adorned the entrance of the clubhouse and most importantly, excluded me! The excuse I was given was, “you’re too young to understand what goes on in here!”

I was bereft and longed to know the secret password to enter, the advanced knowledge for participation in their scintillating activities, and be privy to their imaginary games. The only time I was allowed entrance to the hallowed clubhouse was either as the housekeeper or as the courier ferrying snacks from their respective homes.

Each mother thought she was the only one providing snacks, so I usually arrived at the club’s doorstep with several yummy armfuls: yarooses (pita rollup sandwiches), cookies, nuts, and a thermos of fresh-squeezed juice of some sort. From this bounty, I was allowed only one sampling as a reward for my hard work. For the briefest of moments, I tasted what it felt like to belong to the clubhouse’s rarified air!


Are we guilty of this type of exclusivity in our houses of worship, our communities, our families?

Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing so, some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.

Hebrews 13: 1-2

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