The Heart Work of Hospitality

Oftentimes when we talk about hospitality, the conversation revolves around the state of our homes. Is hospitality letting people into our sacred ordinary dust and laundry piles? Or is hospitality cleaning, lighting candles, and creating an environment of peace and beauty to restore souls?

Perhaps the answer is both – and neither.

Perhaps hospitality has little to do with the state of my home but everything to do with the state of my heart. Perhaps it’s not a matter of offering a specific environment but of freely offering to wave aside my schedule and give my attentive consideration.

When I was pregnant with my first baby, my husband and I moved so that he could attend law school. Like most of the people living in our new town, we were young and well-educated, but I felt as out of place as a hippo in a grocery store. While most of the other young women around me were single and brimming over with career ambitions, I was married and soon staying at home with one, and then two, little boys. For many months I felt isolated. Over time, two women drew me out of my loneliness. One was a fellow young mom, Emily. The other woman, Tilde, was my elderly neighbor. To me, these women were the epitome of hospitality, yet I was hardly ever in their homes.

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