Written by Becky Rosaler on October 28, 2014 in General
Road trips hold some unforgettable memories. One trip especially stands out in my mind: the drive where we blasted Red Hot Chili Peppers on a sunny SoCal day as we headed to the Spiritual Formation Forum to hear from greats like Dallas Willard and Richard Foster. During that car ride, three of us made a pact calling it The Conference Pact. It went something like this:
- If you were afraid to do something, you had to do it.
- If you had a question for a presenter, you had to ask it.
- If someone was within a one-foot radius of you, you had to introduce yourself.
Embracing this deal, I met with a spiritual director, learned more about Eastern University by asking the president questions, and practiced hospitality in a new way.
In his book Reaching Out Henri Nouwen shares, “Hospitality, therefore, means primarily the creation of a free space where the stranger can enter and become a friend.” This idea shifted my view of hospitality. Instead of hosting Kinfolk-worthy dinner parties or providing friends with a comfortable bed, I began to see my obligation to practice hospitality as welcoming others into my immediate space. The Conference Pact reinforced this.
Recognizing one another’s humanity, looking people in the eyes, providing place and space to connect, telling friends that they aren’t alone, and learning to love people well by meeting practical needs are all steps we can take toward integrating true hospitality into our daily lives.
Plant With Purpose partnering farmers provide some of the greatest examples of authentic hospitality. While showing visitors their farms, they’re quick to cut open a pineapple, pick mangoes, or take the machete to sugarcane. They offer hands while climbing hillsides, seats when stopping to rest, and a constant acknowledging smile. There is pride in what they have to share. And I for one feel welcomed, genuinely honored, and loved in their space.
Romans 12:9-13 gives us a solid foundation for incorporating this hospitality into our lives:
Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.
What are ways that you welcome strangers into your space? How can we learn to practice the kind of hospitality exemplified by Nouwen, the Apostle Paul, and partnering farmers?