Monday, June 29, 2015

Home and Hospitality

For four straight weekends (and even some weekdays) Jamie and I have had an incredible privilege of hosting friends and family in Morgantown. We LOVE it when people come to visit, and we have had some pretty wonderful times with friends and family dropping in so far this year. We also love staying with friends and making new friends as we travel sharing Nuru throughout the year. There is just something really special and restful about having guests or being the guest of others. Whether crashing on a couch, floor, or bed, having a guest or being a guest allows us to enjoy and practice hospitality, which may be becoming a forgotten art in a frenetically paced world.

A few years back, I read a book by Henri Nouwen, called Reaching OutNouwen was a Dutch Catholic priest and a professor at Notre Dame, Yale, and Harvard at different points in his career. Reaching Out was not a large book, but it was packed with wisdom. Among the pieces that have stuck to me over the years was an interesting thought around hospitality. Nouwen also considered hospitality to be an art that was on its way to being forgotten. I cannot recall his exact phrasing, but he said something like this. When we practice hospitality, we are actually creating a space where people are free to be themselves and engage in meaningful conversation about things that matter. Not only that, but hospitality allows us to cultivate service toward others as a more central part of our lives.

When we share lodging, we are inviting others into our world, and being invited into theirs at the same time. We all, host and guest, change our rhythms and slow down. We spend time catching up, and we make the people we are with a priority, and to me, that protects us. It protects us from being possessed by our possessions--they become gifts for sharing just like we were taught as children. It also helps divert our attention and our focus away from ourselves, and toward others. When we are guests or hosts, we shift our rhythms and become better participants in community.

May we all make the spaces we inhabit, whether our physical homes, or even the coffee shop, or the bus stop, spaces where people feel free to be themselves and engage in meaningful conversation, and may we grow in our abilities to divert our focus from ourselves to the needs, the joys, and the trials of others. Personally, I think the more we create a space for hospitality, the more beauty we will see and cultivate in this world.

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