Caroline Matilda Stansbury Kirkland: A diffusive blessing and a reviving ray

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Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Isaiah 58:7

“Like many other virtues, hospitality is practiced in its perfection by the poor. If the rich did their share, how would the woes of this world be lightened! How would the diffusive blessing irradiate a wider and a wider circle, until the vast confines of society would bask in the reviving ray! If every forlorn widow whose heart bleeds over the recollection of past happiness made bitter by contrast with present poverty and sorrow, found a comfortable home in the ample establishment of her rich kinsman; if the lovely girls, shrinking and delicate, whom we see every day toiling timidly for a mere pittance to sustain frail life and guard the sacred remnant of gentility, were taken by the hand, invited and encouraged, by ladies who pass them by with a cold nod—but where shall we stop in enumerating the cases in which true, genial hospitality practiced by the rich ungrudgingly, with out a selfish drawback—in short, practiced as the poor practice it—it would prove a fountain of blessedness, almost an antidote to half the keener miseries under which society groans!”

Caroline Matilda Stansbury Kirkland (1808-1864) in Day’s Collacon, compiled and arranged by Edward Parsons Day (New York: IPPO, 1884) 388.

I took Grace St. Catherine to gun dog school yesterday morning and snapped the new header photo. She’s only 7 months old and still figuring out what bird hunting is all about. The same is true for generosity. We get better with practice.

Speaking of practice, let’s think about what it might look like to practice hospitality this week not as giving a hand out that creates a dependency but a hand up that builds up a disciple. We’d prove to be “fountains of blessedness.”

Kirkland’s picture of “diffusive blessing” is envisioned by Isaiah the prophet. Essentially, the message to God’s people is this: our purpose on earth  is to share with other people who are hurting or in need in a way that builds them up.

Kirkland draws out the cultural trappings of the rich. They look down on the poor, while the poor do not judge but aid others as they know what it is like to suffer. With this thought she’s alerting us to check the attitude of our hearts.

This means we must share with others and practice hospitality ungrudgingly without cold nods or selfish drawback, knowing with peace that God will care for us. When we do we come into view as a “diffusive blessing” and a “reviving ray.”

When I think of a “diffusive blessing” I think of my mom, Patsy Hoag. She’s always sharing whatever she has with those around her. Pray for her please. She’s in the hospital in Florida with Covid and Afib. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!

Are you a reviving ray? This is the honor I extend to my wife, Jenni, today. The light and love of Christ reflect off her and warm the hearts of all she touches and literally revives them in lifegiving way. Happy Mother’s Day, Jenni.