Why Bother Practicing Hospitality?
The other evening, I hosted a small gathering of friends and family in honor of my husband’s birthday. And though our house is small, our yard is spacious and with the fine summer weather we naturally gravitated to the outdoors.
When hosting an event, I keep it uncomplicated. I make a request of each guest to bring a particular dish, based on what I know about them. For instance, my daughter-in-law grows a garden, so I ask her to contribute a green salad knowing this will be a simple task for her to fulfill. My youngest son has a busy schedule and will commute the farthest in order to attend the party. So, I ask him to bring a bag of chips, something cheap and easy to purchase.
As everyone arrives, they find their favorite niche. Some guests like to sit out in the sun, while others prefer the shade. The grandkids know exactly where the toys are and pull them out of the garage while their parents plunk down next to a favorite uncle. I move around the small clusters of people making sure everyone has what they need; a beverage, an ashtray, or less volume on the music.
An Attitude of Hospitality
Being hospitable is not difficult for me. I rather enjoy the company of people who say, “yes” to an invitation. But, I find that being hospitable is not limited to planning, organizing and managing a party. Rather, it also includes the practice of being receptive, welcoming and kind to others, even when we don’t see eye-to-eye on everything.
All the people who came to the birthday party are familiar and friendly to me and to each other. Each life has intersected and connected in some way. And though we all know one another, we are not all the same. Each is unique. There are some who have a quirky personality, and some who talk a lot and others who laugh loudly. There are those who are so quiet I forget they even came. Then there are those who are passionate about politics and enjoy a good debate and some who simply bow out of conversing at all and instead become a good listener. Some like to have deep philosophical conversations while others like to retell the same hunting story over and over again.
Of the cars parked in the driveway and in the street, no two were alike, neither were the shoes on anybody’s feet. Some wore flip flops, others socks and tennis shoes. No one dressed quite the same either; shorts and t-shirt or jeans and sweaters.
Practicing hospitality is more than hosting a gathering of people. It includes giving others the space they need, coming to know them for who they are, and paying attention to what they might need. This quality of extending warmth, kindness, and graciousness begins on our insides and extends to others on our outsides.
Why bother practicing hospitality? This particular quality is one way to let others know that with you, they are welcomed.