Read an Excerpt From "The Soulmaking Room"

Now Featured in the Patheos Book Club
The Soulmaking Room
By Dee Dee Risher

Prophet, Woman, Holy Room

How a woman from Shunem messed with my life

It begins with a yearning. An unnamed woman in the town of Shunem decides to build a room on her home for Elisha, the holy man. (Elisha was the prophet carried the mantle after Elijah was swept up into a fiery chariot.)

That act of hospitality changes her life.

Now there came a day when Elisha passed over to Shunem, where there was a prominent woman, and she persuaded him to eat food. And so it was, as often as he passed by, he turned in thereto eat food. She said to her husband, "Behold now, I perceive that this is a holy man of God passing by us continually. Please, let us make a little walled upper chamber and let us set a bed for him there, and a table and a chair and a lamp stand; and it shall be, when he comes to us, that he can turn in there." One day, he came there and turned in to the upper chamber and rested.

Unlike the many women in Scripture, this woman had some economic power. Just before she makes her appearance, scripture records Elisha's miracles for a widow so poor that her two sons are about to be enslaved by creditors in payment for her meager debts. But this prominent woman of Shunem is plagued by no such threat of economic disaster. She is resourced, and she is persuasive.

She has the ear of her spouse, presumably the real source of her economic power in this society where women had no wealth of their own. She convinces her husband to build an upperroom for the prophet. It is a simple space—a small, walled chamber with a bed, able, chair, and lamp, open to him whenever he chooses to come. And he does come. The decision to build this space became an utterly life-changing act.

Acts of hospitality—giving or receiving it—can alter our lives forever.