Up until the recent flood that temporarily forced us out of our home, I’ve always found it fun and even a bit glamorous to stay in a hotel. Most of my previous hotel stays have been for vacation and so I have associated them with fun times. This stay, however, has given me such a different perspective. There is a darkness here. Our “extended stay” hotel is clean, modern enough, and quiet. While it isn’t glamorous and may have less room than we’re normally comfortable with (especially as a family of five), overall the accommodations are nothing to complain about.
Not a Vacation
But unlike a typical resort, I’m realizing that most guests here are not staying for vacation. They’re staying because they’ve been displaced temporarily, like us, in anticipation of a next step. There are construction workers from the local road project who arrive wearily by 8 a.m. to sleep in for the day after a long night’s work. There is a single girl and her dog down the hall who come in and out driving a car that’s clearly in desperate need of repair. There are a few silent business people. There is a homeless lady who seems to sleep much of her day in her car, which is frequently parked between this hotel and the hotel next door.
One day when the power went out at the hotel and I peered through the door viewer, I was hesitant to walk down the long black hallway only lit in spots by dim emergency lighting. The unexpected power outage seemed to be something that would catch people’s attention and start conversation, but there was only silence. No one came out of their rooms. I’m not sure if many of the guests even noticed. There was no community, no communal concern even amongst people who live within feet of one another. And so I’m cautious.
While I know I need to be the light — even amid the power outage that’s a metaphor for the dark situations that have brought some guests here — I’m still cautious and a little hesitant to do so. How unequipped I am to do anything outside my comfort zone without the Holy Spirit.
Light in the Dark
So I praise God as He gave my son the boldness to not-so-quietly pray over our breakfast in the communal breakfast area the other day. Without my prompting, he clearly spoke the name of Jesus over our meal, our day, and our hearts with the weary construction workers, the quiet business people, and some hotel staff present. One of the hotel employees actually stopped in the entrance of the doorway to the breakfast room, bowed her head, and joined us in prayer as my son led.
As a grin grew from ear to ear on her face, I saw a cheerful soul whom God had placed to act as the temporary power in this community that has gathered together in our personal “outages.” And there in the middle of the hotel, beaming from my son and this stranger, was a light in the darkness. How grateful I am to be witness to those whom God lights up for the rest of us to see; and I’m hopeful to be, the next time around.