Highland's Christmas Tree

Another big story in Stranger God is my friendship with Kristi, how it started and how it changed my life.

As I recount in Stranger God, after the publication of Unclean churches started to call. I'd travel to churches and talk about social psychology and hospitality.

Inevitably, someone would ask the question, "Given all the emotional obstacles you're describing, how can we change how we react to strangers?"

At the beginning I didn't have a great answer. Unclean ends with a call for better Eucharistic theology and practice, but that's only going to be a small part of the answer. Liturgy is important, but we put way too much weight upon it. What we need are daily, intentional practices that can widen the circle of our affections and open us up to surprising and unlikely friendships.

And so I went on a long search. Chapter 10 of Stranger God is titled "Searching for the Science of Love." Eventually I discovered the Little Way of Thérèse of Lisieux. And the Little Way led me to Kristi. And Kristi changed my life.

Kristi, regular readers may recall, is blind and lives in an assisted living facility due to cognitive disabilities and psychiatric issues. Once I became friends with Kristi, I began visiting her each week at Highland Assisted Living. And those weekly visits allowed me to become friends with the residents at the home. I no longer spend most of my time with college professors like myself. I've traded in the PhDs for Kristi and my friends at Highland.

This week when I went to take Kristi Christmas shopping she wasn't quite ready. (She can take a long time getting ready.) So I sat on the couch in the lobby and visited with everyone.

The Christmas tree was up and presents were stacked under it. (The picture above is the tree.) So that's mostly what we talked about. Everyone was so proud of the tree. And everyone who had helped put the tree up let me know. ("I helped put it up!") And everyone knew exactly where their present was under the tree.

Lots of Christmas spirit and excitement! The perfect way to start the season. 

I relished the conversation, feeling blessed and grateful for these friends and their beautiful Christmas tree.

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