I was walking toward a building near campus yesterday when a person waiting outside held the door open for me. The person was about to take in a big cart, but before moving it, it seemed easier to let me go through first. So the person held the door open for me as I approached it.
When I saw that this was about to happen, I immediately sped up my walking toward the door. I probably doubled my speed. Then the person said,
“Oh, no need to hurry!” This was spoken as a kind reminder that I wasn’t inconveniencing.
I thought about how frequently we worry about taking up space, or inconveniencing, even when we are given an authentic occasion to receive. Some of us have been socialized in this direction especially.
Just the day before, I had joined a number of people in serving communion to a lovely congregation. We served by intinction, meaning that the people came forward to the front where we were standing. Then each person tore a piece of bread from a larger loaf we were holding and dipped it in the grape juice. So many people tore off teeny, tiny minuscule pieces. I wondered what would have happened if I had first invited people to take a generous piece, which would have been a more accurate symbol of what we were receiving together.
That’s when I thought of something that the poet Mary Oliver says: “Joy is not made to be a crumb.”
Likewise, I suppose,
The taking up of space — being noticed, being cared for — is not made to be hurried.
The gift of receiving is never made to be small.