Numerous friends of mine have been struggling with finances recently—actually, almost everyone I know in my age category. I too have pinched pennies almost all my life and can be very severe in my frugalness if I decide to be. My goal has been to train myself to be as Paul says in Philippians, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” So when I decided to go the Annual Meetings this year, I knew I would have to experiment with accommodations, even if only to respect the financial distress of those I live with.
My heritage taught me to do vacation differently than most—as a child my family never stayed at hotels or had vacation packages to go somewhere warm and on the ocean. Instead, we went where there were friends or family to visit. Otherwise, there was no reason to go. Realizing now, how others do vacation accommodations, I have taken the opportunity to experiment. Americans often do the hotel with a swimming pool thing. Occasionally, I’ve done that. Amish Mennonites give and receive hospitality from other Amish Mennonites. There is even this Mennonite directory out there called Mennonite Your Way which is a hospitality house list of people all across the country. In
All this is to say that I have been considering how best and how functionally to live, when traveling and when at home. With the threat of poverty is hanging over the heads of many folks in my generational category, forcing us to rethink money expenditure and living patterns, I’ve seen many of my peers attracted to living in community, either out of need to survive financially or for expressed faith convictions. Hospitality has also become a bigger deal for them. Hospitality is a virtue amongst the poor. Hospitality is also an essential pillar in community building. (Conversely, entertainment, privacy and independence are virtues of the rich—contributing to loneliness and isolation.) Yet, one has to look at the circumstances and wonder, if we would have the financial means necessary to live alone and travel alone, would we then somehow loose the conviction to live interdependently in a community of believers. My observation has been that, largely, once one comes into a bit of financial means—enough to live alone—one then lives alone or in a circumstance of his/her individual choice. In that case, may God grant me the means to offer hospitality but also the blessing of poverty.