July 19, 2011

The beauty of Hospitality

IMG_7858My blog posts are often about trying to make the world more beautiful for those around me, but this post is about the beauty I found on a recent trip. You see, got back from a trip to visit family in Ohio.  I personally think that the Ohio countryside is how to beat for beauty.  I also saw two unique and beautiful moths (including the one pictured here).  I saw amazing fireworks celebrating the beauty of freedom and our country.  I saw amazing and beautiful animals.  But what I’m especially thankful for is the beauty of family and hospitality.  What can really be said about the beauty of a loving family?  It is truly a gift from God.  I think there are few things as beautiful on this earth as the unconditional love and acceptance of a good family and when that includes an extended family that is especially great.  (Well, I’m a long time in getting to the hospitality part, aren’t I?)

Hospitality is something I haven’t really had a chance to practice that much the last few years

due to the season of our lives, but I have had quite a few chances to experience it with my family.  It so nice to go to visit someone and be welcomed into their home and family.  In my mind there are two types of hospitality: entertaining guests and welcoming close friends and family into your life.  While these are not mutually exclusive, there are some differences.  The first is when you get everything just so, cook a wonderful meal, prepare the guest room and try to have stimulating conversation and activities.  This can be a lot of fun for the guest, and can be fun the host, too.    Having people cook for you and have everything prepared just for you can make you feel very special.  On the other hand, as one gets closer to someone it is nice to be welcomed into the lives of your hosts and to welcome your guests into your life.  Do you have a project or some chores that need done?  Has your guest offered to help?  Well, maybe that you have done a good job of making them feel welcomed and special, and now they would like to be welcomed deeper into your life and help out in return.  I’m not advocating shoving a pile of dirty dishes your guest’s way when you barely know them, what I am saying is that I think allowing a guest (especially one you are close to) to help you can be a sign both of your bond and also a willingness to show vulnerability/need.  In a way, when we are practicing the first kind of hospitality we are, in a way, presenting a picture of our ideal home, ideal meals, and ideal activities whereas most of the time our homes probably aren’t that clean, our meals aren’t that extensive or served that nicely, and we probably spend a lot more evenings catching up on work/bills, or crashing on the couch then we do engaged in stimulating conversation or fun activities.  I’m not saying there is anything wrong in putting forth an effort to make things nice for our guests, and putting their needs first is a wonderful thing.  But, I think that sometimes, guests become family and treating them to a behind the scenes view of your home and life and as I’ve heard it put “doing life together” may not mean you are a bad host at all.

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