Cheryl, from Thinking about Home, has been writing a series of posts on hospitality. Today she is hosting a linky party for her readers to share hospitable tips. The subject has caused me to reflect back on my own experiences with hospitality. This post is not so much about tips, as about memories.
I have a house, an extra bed, a place at my table. You need to stay somewhere, or a meal.
The above words sum up my view on hospitality. There are caveats, of course. Safety is one of them.
Hospitality was first modeled to me by my parents. Sunday dinners often extended to another family invited home from church. Relatives (of which I have an astounding amount) came to stay for one, two, or more nights in our small home with just one bathroom. Visiting choir members, missionaries, friends, and others often sat around our table or slept in our beds while we bunked down elsewhere. My mother and father made it look so easy - a normal part of life.
When I first married and we set up our home, I was nervous about inviting people over. What would I say? I worried more about the flow of conversation than the cooking or cleaning. Sometimes, it took real guts for me to say, "yes, I can serve dinner to so and so." I would invite someone else for dinner as well, someone who I knew would talk a blue streak and keep the conversation going.
Then we moved to Ecuador. Opening our home was not an option. People poured through our home in a steady stream, needing beds, meals and a place to call home in a far away land. Ecuadorians, Dutch, Germans, English, Australians, Americans, Canadians and many more nationalities gathered around our table and slept in our beds. Some stayed for a meal, others for several months.
The benefits far outweighed the inconveniences. Our children learned to converse with people from many backgrounds, young and old. We heard stories of far away lands. One Christmas a young German couple showed us how to make folded paper stars. An American visitor gave us a wonderful recipe for chocolate cake, and started us on the habit of eating popcorn, apples and cheese for Sunday night suppers. Our youngest guest was a newborn baby boy whom we brought home from the hospital and kept until his adoptive parents arrived.
The hospitality continued when we moved back to Canada. A young man from Spain, here to learn English, taught us how to make paella and Spanish tortilla. A young girl who needed a safe place, a boy who had no family in Canada, friends of friends, and so on.
For the two years we lived in Parksville where we had few guests other than family. And I found myself becoming anxious again about guests. Like any art, hospitality, when practiced, becomes easier. The less I think about myself and the more I focus on my guests, the more fun it becomes. Not that I fuss too much, rather, I try to make our guests comfortable, asking them questions about their life, thinking about what they would like. Most people are happy to talk about their home.
Problems have been few. Sometimes, when the stay is longer, a few rules need to be enforced. But we have experienced nothing but respect from those we've hosted.
Hospitality is one of the things Jesus encouraged. I've been reluctant at times, and resentful sometimes, of all the work. But more than that, I'm thankful to my parents for showing me how to be hospitable, and I know that we have been so blessed by all the people we've come to know. I wanted our home to be a place where people are restored and rested, a haven, but also a place from which to go out and face life's challenges.
Visit Thinking About Home for more posts on hospitality.