A friend of our family still talks about having breakfast with us in our home 20 years later. Breakfast is no big deal, right? At that time, it was a big deal to him. Just before he arrived, my husband shared with me that his wife had left him and was filing for divorce. His world was falling apart.
Our friend was in town on business and had some time in the morning to visit. It was on short notice and all I had time to do to welcome him was to scramble some eggs and whip up blueberry muffins. I put on a fresh pot of coffee and sent my husband to the store real quick for juice.
That morning, a deeply wounded man walked through our front door and sat at our table. Not a word was said about his situation. We just ate together and kept the conversation light to try to take his mind off things for a little while. I didn’t feel like we’d done much at all to be a help to him. But to him, having him in our home and serving him a simple breakfast, it was everything.
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Hospitality Makes People Feel Valued
Have you ever noticed that the word “hospitality” contains the root word “hospital”? Welcoming people into our homes and making them feel valued not only makes them feel special, but it can also help them heal. It’s a rough world.
I like how Mauri Jane King (The American Patriette) summarizes the importance of hospitality in the introduction of her book Instant Hospitality…
…You might think I’m exaggerating, but I promise you, we can change this country and our world from our very own doorsteps.
We start at our doorsteps and end at our kitchen tables. When we invite someone into our space, we are welcoming them into our lives and signaling to them, “You are valuable.” Breaking bread together breaks barriers between us. Food (and drink) is a common denominator: I don’t care who you are, we all have to eat and drink to live! That cup of coffee we share together – it offers more than just a little “pick-me-up.” It offers us a means of connection with one another. Those cookies we make – they don’t simply satisfy a sweet tooth. They serve as an invitation to linger – to stay a while at our table. That food is more than just nourishment – it’s a conversation piece. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve talked through recipes with friends and strangers alike. It’s amazing how easy it is to connect over something so simple as food.
Sharing Food is Sacred
Sharing a food with a guest, I think, is a sacred thing. Food for family and guests is love made tangible.
Right now, in our culture, food and resources are abundant. For most people, making someone a cup of coffee and offering a plate of cookies is no big sacrifice. But there was a time when resources were scarce. Sharing food and drink with someone outside your family and tribe was a big sacrifice. I think that’s why in ancient times hospitality was such a big deal.
Right now through 7:30 CST tonight on Instagram I’m participating in a Welcome Home Foodie Tour. Women from all over the United States are sharing how they use food to welcome people into their homes. The food is being styled with fall decorations. It’s great to see how these amazing women care for guests in their homes! So many beautiful ways to comfort and share with others!! All that love showing in those beautiful photographs! The hospitality being shown truly is inspiring. 🙂
Hospitality Can Heal a Heart
I read a book this summer that brought to mind the breakfast with our friend 20 years ago. If you’re looking for a good read, I recommend the novel Ask Him Why by Catherine Ryan Hyde. I’ll let you read the full summary of the story on Amazon.
In this fictional story, one of the characters is an elderly gentleman who owns a home on a cliff on the coast of the Pacific Ocean. There’s a fence blocking off the cliff, but the fence has a hole in it. People in distress keep re-opening the hole to get to the cliff because they are considering jumping from it to end their lives.
The elderly gentleman sees it as his mission to monitor the cliff and offer breakfast to the people standing at its edge. He figures if he could talk them away from the cliff and into his kitchen, he can get some good food in them.
While in his home being fed and cared for the hurting people would usually see that their situation maybe wasn’t so dire. His breakfast refueled them, comforted them, and helped them decide to keep going. He wouldn’t discuss with his guests why they were on the cliff. He just fed and cared for them.
His hospitality helped them heal a little.
Not Perfection, But Love
Practicing hospitality isn’t about putting on a perfect presentation. It’s about demonstrating love to those in our home. Demonstrating that love doesn’t have to mean creating a large meal. A simple cup of coffee or tea and companionship, a tray of crackers and cheese, a glass of iced tea on a hot day, milk and Oreos, all demonstrate that love just fine. The main thing is creating a connection. Being a friend. YOU are enough. 🙂
Don’t worry about a little dust and clutter or dishes in the sink. The person receiving your gift of hospitality won’t remember it anyway. They’ll remember how they were made to feel.
And that’s what matters.
I hope being here in my little corner of the internet is a blessing to you. 🙂 If you’re having “a day”, I want you to know that you’ve got this. And if you need me, I’m right here.
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