Kitty reflects on hospitality

Hosting our Stony Point neighbors whose homes were damaged by Superstorm Sandy has caused me to think more deeply about our commitment to hospitality at Stony Point Center. As a long-time activist before coming to SPC, it has been hard for me in my mind to fit hospitality into nonviolent strategies for social change work.

But over these past weeks I have come to understand that hospitality is really the foundational practice that undergirds peace and justice work. Hospitality in its deepest sense means "welcoming the other, or welcoming the stranger," whether that comes in the form of another human being, a group, an idea, or a critique. This fundamental openness to learning about, understanding, and potentially being changed by the other is the foundational practice that leads to collaborative, effective efforts to strengthen peace, nonviolence and social justice.

We are priviledged at SPC to be able to practice (and it is a practice!) that kind of radical hospitality every day. May all of our efforts in this new year bring us closer to peace and social justice in our communities and in the world.

Epiphany and Community: Old and new traditions by Rick

Epiphany, also known as three kings day, is the Christian observance of the arrival of the three kings who had come from afar to see Jesus. I confess that this is not a day that we went out of our way to recognize in my family as I was growing up. This year the celebration took on new meaning for me.

Amy, one of the Christian residents in the multifaith community here at Stony Point Center who took the lead in our storm relief work, decided she wanted to have an epiphany celebration at the Gilmor Sloane House this year. On Sunday night the 6th, most of the resident volunteers from SPC, and many of the Hurricane Sandy families we have hosted over the last few months, filled the old mansion with fiddle music and dancing and laughter and sweets and singing. It was marvelous. During the evening, all of us crowded into the living room around the fire and Amy described what Three Kings means to her while I provided interpretation for the many Spanish speakers who were with us. This is precisely the kind of gathering that honors the gift of this home from the Gilmor sisters.

Over the four and a half years that our family has been here at Stony Point, I have longed for a way to connect with the community around us more meaningfully. I never would have wished the impact of Sandy on anyone, but the opportunity for us to open our doors to people who lost their homes has transformed everything about how we connect to this community. Families who had been entirely hidden to us are now truly connected to the staff and volunteers of the Center. Our relationships with public officials from the town and from Rockland County have been transformed into living, growing alliances as we work together to strengthen and build up our community. Even the guests who use the conference center have a different understanding of who we are: not just a business, but a witness to the power of offering hospitality that extends beyond traditional boundaries.

Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Quaker, Pentecostal, Spanish and English speaking, from all walks of life - experiencing a Christian tradition in which the three Kings came from faraway lands to pay homage to a baby who was already a sign of peace to the world - that's what this experiment at Stony Point Center is all about. Over the past year, we've also celebrated Iftar, breaking fast together with our Muslim sisters and brothers as Ramadan came to an end. We have shared together about the meaning of Rosh Hashanah and the practice of asking forgiveness from our friends and loved ones. The impact is subtle, but I can feel the ways in which the practice of sharing the best of our traditions with one another is changing me.

Who knows what God may have in store for us as we continue to seek to be open to new and deeper relationships in this community, throughout the New York Metro area, and around the world...

Read more in our January Enews.