One of the most intriguing parts of my trip to Naples, Italy, was the realization that just about everyone's life expanded from inside their home, to out the back door and onto the balcony. Every street I walked down seemed to be full of balconies displaying hanging laundry, for the whole world to see.
During my travels, someone explained to me why the city was like this. Because Naples is located along the gulf of the Mediterranean Sea, the humidity makes air drying wet clothes inside, almost impossible. (Unlike North America, almost every country in Europe hangs their clothes to dry. Driers for clothes aren't really a thing over here.) Out of the necessity to dry their clothes, residents began to hang them off of their back balconies.
This whole concept is almost counter cultural to what I experience in France. Over here, privacy and keeping to oneself ranks on a high priority level. Almost every home where I live is equipped with high fences, to deter onlookers, as well as "Venetian blinds," which are metal blinds used to completely cover up the windows, from the outside of the house.
What an incredibly stark contrast between the two countries and the projected impression to those who pass by. The shut metal blinds give off the feeling of being closed off, cold and unwelcoming, while the Italian homes exuded warmth, welcome and openness. In light of these things, I began to ponder, how is this like our hearts?
The Bible speaks quite a bit about the state of the heart. 1 Peter 4:8-9 says, "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling." Loving others and showing hospitality begins with the attitude of the heart. It is certainly a good reminder for myself to choose to allow these things to flow out of me.
As we interact with those we encounter, may we be open; open to love, open to hospitality, that they may, "see [our] good works and glorify our Father in Heaven" (Matthew 5:16). Let us look to the Father for this ability and pray that these things would be evident in our lives, as we "walk in the Spirit" (Galatians 5:16).
Father, allow me to have grace and wisdom as I walk daily in this world. Help me to have a softened heart, despite what difficulties and trials may come my way. Give me the ability to love those around me,that they may feel Your love. Help me to be "wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove" as I navigate though this life (Matthew 10:16).