What is Hospitality? Part 1

A tavola, non si invecchia.  “At the table, you don’t grow old,” declared my first year Italian instructor.

Maybe that was true in Italy – but not at my house. My intentions were good, but by the time I’d finally get the food on the table, I felt older than the aged cheese on the antipasto tray. I loved cooking and entertaining but often wound up missing the party because of the over ambitious menus I planned.  

I’d picture my guests and myself at the table, deep in conversation, or gathered around the stove, laughing and enjoying each other’s company, but it’s kind of hard to connect with people when you’re desperately trying to spin threads of caramel on a humid summer day, or attempting to make cantaloupe mousse in January when the melons are hard as a rock. Yes, I did that. I was a harried hostess because I totally misunderstood the meaning of hospitality. Then I met Shelby.


The Key to Hospitality

When I first met her I was a mess, depressed and depleted from a seemingly endless season of family struggles,  illness,  job loss and the resulting financial stress. Shelby heard about it and invited me to her lakeside home for what she called a “little retreat.” When I pulled into her driveway, I saw a small-scale Airstream trailer parked near the entrance. Shelby greeted me, handed me the key to the trailer and told me to stay as long as I liked. I could have stayed forever. Shelby had papered the ceiling and walls with maps, murals and posters of exotic vacation spots; reading materials were stacked next to a comfy built-in bed, soothing music played in the background and there was a note encouraging me to walk down to the lake or take a nap if I wanted. A few glorious hours later, she knocked on the door carrying a tray with tea and coffee and cookies. By the time I went home, I felt like a new woman –  I will never forget her or that afternoon.

Someone who I didn’t even know had seen a need and realized they had the means to address it. In the book Radical Hospitality, it says, “Hospitality is the overflowing of a heart that has to share what it has received.” Shelby showed me hospitality by first, perceiving the need, and second, by sharing what she’d received: the gift of creativity. She employed her gift to create a place of respite for the weary and the hurting.

THE LAST COURSE: What gifts or talents have you been given that you could share with others? Freely giving them away ensures that your own Divine Supply will never run out.

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