Encountering the Hospitable Jesus

Apr 1 / Susan Anquist
I encountered a beautiful and unusual crucifix while walking the Camino de Santiago (Frances) in 2022. It was found in the 12th-century church of San Juan, in the village of Furelo near Melide, Galacia. The statue is called 'Cristo de la Mano Tendida' (Christ of the Outstretched Hand). It was carved by a local artist, Manuel Cagide.

The imagery of Jesus' right arm reaching downward was a powerful image for me that day. I was transfixed. I will never forget the impact of this exemplary carving. It became an impromptu visio divina. (If you need to become more familiar with this practice, it is an ancient form of Christian prayer that engages the heart and imagination through entering into a sacred image). On this particular day, as a pilgrim, I felt tired and vulnerable, needing reassurance and companionship. I was drawn to this carving as I entered this old Romanesque church. I became curious. What was this image touching in my soul? It felt so loving amid great suffering. Jesus was indeed reaching out to me. I stood silently, taking in this beautiful gift, tears welling up.

What was happening deep with me, calling me to a time of sacred seeing?

Somehow, the image for me became sacramental. I entered in. I felt invited. This carving became a gift of Divine invitation. I felt compelled to interact with this hospitable Jesus, ever reaching, ever sustaining. My own spiritual moorings left little room for icons or crucifixes, so this one startled me and left me wondering if I had indeed missed something along the way. I stopped. I wondered. I became curious. I opened myself up to the warm hospitality of the heart of this suffering Jesus.

Where are you noticing the invitational, Divine One?

As I continue to unwrap the gift of 'Cristo de la Mano Tendida,' the Christ of the Outstretched Hand, I have wondered about the places deep within myself where I need to experience the outstretch of Divine reaching. I arrived in a small 12th-century Romanesque Church with little to give. I was tired, alone, and not particularly fresh-smelling. Yet, I experienced the hospitality of the Divine heart. I felt accepted for who I was and what I was feeling. I felt seen, reached for, sustained. I found my body responding with tears. I noticed a spontaneous opening of my hand in response to the outstretched hand of Jesus. I trusted the moment and knew it was a sustaining gift. I felt space to breathe and bask in the moment in the presence of this hospitable Jesus, my friend.

I take this gift with me to this day. I am seen, reached for, and sustained. On that particular day, like many in life, I was not even aware of what my soul longed for. I did have a sense that I was on the receiving end of sacrificial, all-knowing love. That was enough.

Pausing, we open space for the soul to experience what it needs.

As a spiritual director, opening a sacred space with the Divine and another human being, I have the unique opportunity to bear witness and support the movement of God. I am reminded that the soul needs space to pause, to be still, and to recenter. This is the gift of spiritual direction. I can offer the hospitality of my own heart by listening, being curious, and offering an outstretched arm in companionship. I am also reminded by this day with 'Cristo de la Mano Tendida' that I, too, am supported in my calling. While at Portland Seminary, one of our preceptors shared these words, which I will never forget.

“Sacred is the call, awesome indeed the entrustment. Tending the holy. Tending the holy.”
Sr. Suzanne Toolan, RSM.

On this poignant spring day in 2022, I encountered the hospitable Jesus. This sacred space in Furelo, Spain, was a moment of Divine connection. I was given the opportunity to tend the holy. I am forever changed.

Where are the spaces in your life that need holy tending, the outstretched hand of Divine reaching?

Susan Anquist
Susan Anquist is a spiritual director from Abbotsford, British Columbia. She offers spiritual direction both online and in person. She completed her Master of Arts in Spiritual Formation and Spiritual Direction certification from Portland Seminary in Portland, Oregon, in 2018. She loves being outdoors, walking, observing, and breathing. She has an affinity for good literature, food, and wine. She loves traveling and eating food from around the world. She finds life in photography, writing, and meaningful conversation. Her writing can be found on Instagram at Susan.Anquist