It’s long past time I wrote about Kim.
First, the background. Craig and I were married the weekend between exams and graduation. That summer, we moved a solid 1,000 miles away from our families. We knew no one; our closest contact was my graduate program director, with whom I had had a couple of phone conversations.
We met Kim through our church. She was a recent convert to Catholicism, and a single mother of five children, ranging in age from early twenties (roughly our own age) down to four.
Kim invited us to her house for dinner. Almost immediately, this became a standing date. Every Tuesday was Kim’s house, and Kim’s house meant board games with the nine year old, non-grad-student conversation, cloth napkins, and always a steaming pot of tea.
We often say that our family’s emphasis on hospitality stems from reading so much Dorothy Day, and her writings (and Peter Maurin’s, of course) do provide much of the philosophy behind our way of life. But the person in whom this ideal of hospitality took on flesh in our lives was Kim.
Every week for nearly a year she fed us, but her influence went much deeper than that. There were the little things: Would I have ever thought to use cloth napkins for everyday if I hadn’t known Kim? Is it any wonder that, when we decided we needed a teapot, the one I picked out is a close cousin to the round, earthy brown one from which she poured every time we visited? There were also some big things — like how to offer what you have and how to listen with all you are.
The joy and welcome we found at Kim’s house went a long way towards grounding us in the radically new situation we found ourselves in that year. That hospitality is something we’ve tried to replicate our whole marriage. She planted a seed, showed us a way of life open to seeing and caring for whoever crossed our paths. I’m sure we thanked her before we left, but we couldn’t have known then just how much we would have to thank her for. Fifteen years later, her little seed is still bearing fruit.