Everything I write, I try to write with complete honesty. Today I’m writing with blunt honesty and trepidation. Trepidation because my wife and I have opened the door to a future we had in no way anticipated in France. For one, we had not anticipated a war with Russia; and like most of the world, apart from the filthy rich, we are experiencing a personal cost to the war in Ukraine: with prices rising daily. And now Chris and I have added another, as yet, unknown cost: we have agreed to host refugees from Ukraine. They are on their way as I write this and are in Romania at the moment.
For their part, our guests (mother and daughter), are coming to live with complete strangers in a country where they do not speak the language. It’s reciprocal, as we have no real knowledge of them either. Chris and I ran a B&B for nearly three years before Covid shut it down, so we are used to having strangers in our home. We also took in refugees from a hurricane in 2018 and became fast friends with them…but it was only for a week. Hence my trepidation. Our guests might be with us months …or years.
Truthfully, I like my solitude. I enjoy our goats and hens more than most human beings. As a former prison chaplain, pastor and university teacher “I gave at the office.” But this war on Europe’s doorstep has blasted me out of my solitude. Ironically, three weeks ago I even contemplated going to the Ukraine to help or fight, but decided that a 70-year-old might be more of a hindrance than a help. But watching the ruthless assaults on civilians ignited, what a friend once described as, my “over-developed sense of fairplay.” I hate bullies. As a bookish lad, I suffered enough at their hands.
As so here I am, worrying about “What if they can’t sleep or have night terrors? They’ll be in the studio apartment over our heads.” “What if they won’t leave me alone?” (I am not alone in this, for my wife has similar concerns…I just have a need to express mine!) Happily, at this moment, money is not a major concern. We have been bowled over by the kind offers of friends in different countries. And yet…what the hell else are we meant to do? Jesus’ admonition to “welcome the stranger” rings round in my brain. And so Chris and I made the decision to offer hospitality without counting the cost. We are not special people or heroes, so please, no more comments like that on Facebook. We are doing what our God-given humanity has called us to do. And we might be asking some of you for your support.
2 thoughts on “Counting the Cost?”
Jack Lawson! I found your site by accident, wondering if you are the Jack Lawson I knew those many years ago at Knox Church in Cincinnati. This is Jo Holcomb. The name Mary J Beall is just me in another life. I am so happy to read your words – you were always an incredibly talented speaker and writer – I must find some of your books. What winding lives we have both lived – I can’t remember if you were still at Knox when I started work there as the CE Director in 1987. We may have had some overlap. Anyway, my work with churches spanned 30 years until, even though I was working with a very progressive large congregation in downtown Minneapolis, I found myself incredibly disilusioned with organized religion. I returned to my firwst love – theater and literature and after 25 years with the Guthrie Theater, I have sort of retired and work as a freelance dramaturg and editor, along with being on the faculty of the University of Minnesota and the National Theater Institute in Waterford, CT. I am glad to have found you, even if by accident and hope that you are also having a glorious retirement. Just as a side note, I also have rheumatoid Arthritis, diagnosed in 1991 – makes me wonder what was in the water pipes at Knox!
It really is nice to hear from you! Thanks for taking the time to write. Sorry to learn of your rheumatoid arthritis. I hope that, like me, you have found a way to cope with the constant pain. I have an incredibly rich life here in France with my wife, Chris, and our goats and chickens🐓🐐. We have a wonderful group of friends and have found the French to be very welcoming.
Ah, the institutional church…don’t get me started😳. Read my second novel, No Good Deed, for a glimpse into what I went through with the PC(USA) after we made the mistake of moving back to the US (from the U.K.) in 2000. We do have a small group of like-minded Christians who meet twice a month for fellowship and home-grown worship. NO MINISTERS! Hurrah! We all do everything, which is how it should be.
You might recall I had married Judith Williams before leaving Knox. We had two children together before my suspicions about her confused sexuality proved to be true. Why, in this day and age, does anyone need to deny her sexuality and ‘live the lie’? Beats me. In any case, Chris and I blended our families 23 years ago and have lived many adventures since then.
I now live as a blend of village clown, writer of fiction and small-time farmer. My fifth novel should appear in five weeks. My publisher is a small outfit run by a bunch of women who love books. The one drawback is that they won’t translate their books. Pity for my many European friend.
I remember you had lived in Germany for a good while way back when…do you ever come to Europe now? If so, and you don’t mind la vie en campagne, you are welcome to stay with us.
Keep in touch. À la prochaine fois, Jack