Each step away from the village was a step closer to safety even if it meant leaving the world they knew--hopefully for only a short time.
Their nation's leader was a man who lived in fear of those who may challenge his power. He had heard rumors of potential emerging rebels whose very presence could make less of the king’s power. So he gripped his status more firmly than ever and doubled down his resolve to extinguish any who may pose a threat. He unleashed a fury of violent activity and many in the capitol city rallied to his authoritarian push to stifle rumored rivals or anyone who questioned his policy.
In this instance in a town not terribly far from the capitol there was a child who created whispers near and far. It was said his very presence implied a possible assault on the throne. For this reason, the king sent his armed men to hunt down the would-be rebel child. For this reason, the boy and his parents ran into the unknown with tears on cheeks and little more than the clothes on their backs.
The husband could’ve stayed home. The boy wasn’t technically his child after all. However, he had committed to be the child's father when her married her. He led them stealthily through perilous terrain. Thieves lurked and the elements could be unkind. They only had a limited amount of supplies and the child, being such, needed to be led on as quickly as possible to a place that could provide some form of stability. Stalling for any period of time on making it to safety was not an option. Otherwise, who knows what would happen. For that matter—who knows if the mom could keep a healthy enough mental state to nurse or provide for a child while on the move in such unsteady surroundings. Their trip necessitated expedition.
Thankfully, they arrived in a land not impossibly far from them and found haven there. Irony of ironies—they left a place which should have felt like a promise land and laughed in their moments alone acknowledging their new home was the land of their ancestors’ slavery. Their fathers were sure to mention this at many mealtimes and holiday get-togethers.
Yet, here they were, in an unlikely location safe from a tyrant of unchecked neurosis. This tyrant, in fact, slew the lives of other children from the town who shared a similar age to secure his throne.
The family stayed in the foreign land for a while. It was not their home but their lives found purchase there while they waited out the ravaging and danger of their homeland. When news came to them the tyrannical leader passed they found their way back home as soon as possible.
As the boy grew, the mother and father made sure at dinnertime to share the story of the time when they were forced from their home and ran for their lives into a far country. The boy remembered those stories from their time away; the strangers who were hospitable to his parents in their foreign land; the old lady who offered his mom fabric for his clothes; the man in the community who shared tools with his dad so he could work. And as he grew in wisdom and stature and the like he always took note of those who didn’t fit into their surroundings. He practiced hospitality to those who felt ostracized and unsafe. In fact, he sought them out.
His parent’s stories touched him in a way that profoundly shaped his professional career as an adult. He became something of a celebrity in certain regions of his homeland—perhaps known for his way of reframing common assumptions in his rhetoric. He did and said risky things in the name of the stranger, the outcast, the outsider.
He understood the risk his very presence caused his own parents and how it displaced them from a life they might have otherwise chosen. He understood the radical hospitality they experienced—by former oppressors of their people no less. He realized his presence challenged particular kingdoms who grip too strongly to their own national power. He inspired an international movement of radical hospitality partly because his own early years involved a mom and dad who experienced welcome in a land which opened its borders to them in an hour of need.