Let’s talk hospitality.

Let’s talk hospitality. February 26, 2010

Friends, I know you’re out there. At least, I hope you’re out there. I was thinking today might be a good chance for us to get to know each other a bit since we’re just starting out together.

Also, I’m really interested in your opinion. Hospitality has been a word on my mind a lot lately. As I’m reading up on the Benedictines, I’m learning that the most obvious distinction between them and other monastic orders, is their emphasis on hospitality as a way of life.  Benedict is clear in his Rule that no one who arrives as a guest is ever to be turned away, but is to be accepted as Christ (RB, Chapter 53).

This has led me to begin thinking that stay at home moms have an opportunity to value and practice hospitality in our lives in a radical way. And no, I don’t just mean that we need to be Betty Crocker, hosting the ladies of the Junior League. In fact, “hosting” is not what I’m referring to at all. If any one fails on the Betty Crocker-ometer, it’s me.

My friend Lia recently introduced me to a book by Henri Nouwen called Lifesigns. I’m only one chapter in, but so far Nouwen is talking about hospitality as the act of creating “home,” which he defines as a space where a person is welcomed and where that person is free to be his or herself, without fear. Obviously that space is not necessarily physical, not necessarily our kitchen. What I’m struggling with is how to see our lives, our world, as a home to invite people into. To offer those around us a sense of being “welcomed” wherever we are, whatever we’re doing. To see the value in the people we pass on the street or shop beside in the grocery store.

Honestly, I don’t really know what that means in my life. There are the general struggles I have about hospitality: On the streets near my home we pass plenty of strangers who are hungry but also clinically insane. As a mother, how do I care for and protect August, not risking his safety, but also work to “welcome” those in need around me? What does it mean to offer hospitality to my next-door neighbor who avoids eye contact at all costs? What does hospitality mean when the weather keeps me stuck inside all day with my son and we don’t interact with anyone?

Here’s where you come in. I’d really like to know what you think about hospitality. Is it something you think about, something you have any insight on? What are your questions? What are your convictions?  Please teach me, mamas!

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