Welcoming our brothers and sisters with care and willingness must not be limited to extraordinary occasions, but must become for all believers a habit of service in their daily lives.
Hospitality is opening our hearts and homes to a stranger, but it can also be an invitation to coffee, saving a seat at a meeting, or offering someone your place in line.
March 24, 2022: My good friend Rich Motherwell (pictured) submitted the following regarding his own experience with Hospitality
My first day of work began pretty much like all of my past jobs. I filled out paperwork and brought my ID so it could be photocopied and placed in a file. They took my picture and made me a badge to get in and out of the building. I joined a room of 20 or so other sharply dressed people to attend the company new hire orientation. I was grateful to start working for Hilton Hotels. It was a part-time gig and I needed some extra money while my wife was looking for a job. The schedule was flexible, which was good because it would work around my “day job”, plus, I was hoping to take advantage of some travel benefits! I had no desire to work two jobs forever, but I knew that this would help our family for six months or so, and then I could go back to one job.
About halfway through that first day, something changed inside me, and I knew that this was going to be more than just a regular job. After lunch we watched a biography profiling the life of Conrad Hilton, the founder of Hilton Hotels. The show highlighted some old interviews with Conrad and in one of those interviews he said, “It has been, and continues to be, our responsibility to fill the earth with the light and warmth of hospitality.” Instantly an excitement grew inside me. Maybe it would be a more accurate description to say excitement exploded inside me! I looked around to see if anyone else’s mind was blown. The light and warmth of hospitality?! I had never heard hospitality described that way before, but I immediately understood it because that is something I already lived! Now I was working for a company whose mission is to be the most hospitable company in the world. Hilton was a perfect match for my gifts and ten years later I am still working my ‘temp’ job.
For me, hospitality is summed up in a famous quote by Maya Angelou, “I have learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Hospitality makes you feel special. It takes thoughtfulness on someone’s part and it requires a demonstration of that thoughtfulness. If you come and stay at our house, we think about you before you ever get to our place and try to transform our spare bedroom into a space that will make you feel comfortable and special. We’ll make your bed, put a snack on the nightstand and have a space for you to put your luggage. We will put out our favorite pictures of you with our family. If you like to read, we will put out a stack of books. If we know you have a hobby, we will put out a magazine with your interests. Beach towels are laid out in case you want to take a swim in the pool and extra blankets in case you get cold at night. The goal is to make you feel special and give you something to remember because you felt welcomed, blessed and loved. That’s the light and warmth of hospitality.
Moses and his dad Noah today:
September 10, 2021
Pictured to the left is Noah, Julie Jane, and little Moses Weaver. The Weaver family lived with us in a small house in Jerusalem for a few months about seven years ago.
We are forever connected to them and recently had the pleasure of spending an afternoon/evening with them at their tiny house on Vashon Island WA where they help manage and work a small farm full of all kinds of good organic vegetables and fruits.
When we arrived, Moses was standing out at the end of the driveway waiting for us, to greet us, guide us in, and show us where to park. His dad said he had been out there waiting for quite a while. We then got a tour of the farm, sampling and gathering as we went along the makings for a dinner salad. Moses was at our side the whole time. He asked me questions about my life, what I liked and didn’t like, what I spent my time doing. I was amazed that this young guy would have any interest at all in an old man like me! I don’t think I had ever experienced anything like it. When we got back to the house, Moses asked what I wanted to drink and then poured me a glass of lemonade. More conversation followed all through dinner and right up to the time we had to leave to go home. I left them with a copy of Little Book of Virtues as a thank you gift.
Several weeks later, we saw the Weaver family once again at a birthday party for our grandson Julio. Moses’s dad Noah said to me “Moses is reading your book!” Moses then told me that his favorite virtue was “Hospitality!!!” Of course. He could have written that chapter much more eloquently than I did I am sure, because he sure knows how to practice it.
June 26, 2021
Listening as Spiritual Hospitality –(Henri Nouwen)
To listen is very hard, because it asks of us so much interior stability that we no longer need to prove ourselves by speeches, arguments, statements, or declarations. True listeners no longer have an inner need to make their presence known. They are free to receive, to welcome, to accept.
Listening is much more than allowing another to talk while waiting for a chance to respond. Listening is paying full attention to others and welcoming them into our very beings. The beauty of listening is that, those who are listened to start feeling accepted, start taking their words more seriously and discovering their own true selves. Listening is a form of spiritual hospitality by which you invite strangers to become friends, to get to know their inner selves more fully, and even to dare to be silent with you.
July 2, 2021
In Elizabeth Newman’s book Untamed Hospitality, she names hospitality as “a practice and discipline that asks us to do what in the world’s eyes might seem inconsequential but from the perspective of the gospel is a manifestation of God’s kingdom. Newman argues of the importance of hospitality as a practice of small gestures: rather than being paralyzed waiting for an earth-shaking event in order to prompt hospitality, the body of Christ can work together in a connected way, greater than any of our individual acts of kindness alone, that helps the world witness “the love and mighty deeds of God.”
When I think of hospitality, my grandmothers certainly come to mind! My Grandma Ruby Crane (left) had the biggest dining table I’ve ever seen, able to seat her boarding house residents as well as our whole family and more. There might have been twenty people around her table on Christmas Eve! And my Grandma Frieda (right) sure put out a spread any time we went to visit her in Olympia! And she always made sure she made my favorite little pumpkin pastries called “Plachinda.” She would wink at me and say “I made these especially for you, Artie!” There was more than food on the table; they both spread joy and peace and shalom; they were hospitality personified. —Art Nicklaus