I just got back from a vacation last weekend and for the first time I used Airbnb to reserve two of the places I stayed. Now I think one of them was simply a place that the owner specifically uses to rent out for income, but the other one seemed to be a condominium in a vacation area that the owner rented out for much of the year but used for themselves the rest of the time. It was in a ski area in the Northern Cascades in Washington and a few pictures looked like they were probably of the owner when he was snowboarding, and there were a good amount of spices and other things in the kitchen. It wasn’t his home, but it was a place he used to get away and rented out to others when he wasn’t using it. Others I know rent out their own homes when they know they are going to be gone for a while and might make some money renting it out for a week or two. In some cases we realize this makes a lot of sense financially, I’ve even heard of people paying for major vacations renting out their home when there was some major event happening close by like if the Olympics are in your city and the hotels can’t handle all the visitors.
I’m talking about this because it makes you think sometimes about what really matters to you. As I said, financially there can be some situations where it makes perfect sense to do this, and yet we still might not consider it, having strangers stay in your home. Is it because of the valuable things (or things we value) we have? Or more a value we put on privacy and ownership that we have a difficult time considering having someone else stay there? A trust issue? (I’m sure there is some sort of insurance you can get for these situations.)
Since I don’t own where I live I can’t exactly rent out the rectory when I’m on vacation (I think Fr. Schaab would have something to say about that), but I think it isn’t a bad thing to think about. Not that I think a certain answer is right or wrong or more Christian, or ethical, or even financially smart, but it does present some interesting questions about what we value and why.
If you aren’t thinking about your home, how about your car? Have you ever let someone else borrow your car? Maybe it was a close relative and they just needed to go to the store, or someone who was going on a trip or a longer drive and it would really fit their need. Or instead of owning a car would we consider just using a community vehicle we rent like a Zipcar?
Again, there can be a lot of different reasons that we will or won’t do such things, and sometimes it is good to consider what they are. Why are we attached to what we are? Who do we trust with things and why? And is it because we really trust them or something about that relationship that is more important than the car, or the home, or whatever it is. This might seem like a strange exercise but I think it is closer to many of the decisions we have to make then the life or death scenarios we hypothesize at times to consider our values, our motivations, our faith. We might be able to tell someone “I would die for you,” but what if they just need a few hours of our time?