The Real Heart of Hospitality
Sunlight flickered through the trees and danced on the hood of the car as we drove along the winding road through the heart of Ireland. Already I could breathe easier. A weight had been bearing down on me ever since we moved there. Her house was the one place the darkness seemed to lift.
I had been waiting for this weekend for months. It was my birthday, and my husband had had the brilliant idea of taking me to her house for the weekend. The weightiness of isolation lessened with each mile. Finally, we were only an hour away. We called to update her on our arrival time.
“Hey, it’s Jen! We’ll be there in about an hour.”
Awkward silence stretched through the phone connection.
“You’re…you’ll be here in an hour?” she said.
“Yep! Traffic is great, so we’ll see you soon! We’re looking forward to the weekend.”
“Okay…” more silence. “Did I know you were coming?”
Through an increasingly awkward conversation, it became clear that my husband and I had talked about the epic birthday weekend we were going to spend with our friends. The only problem was, we forgot to ask our friends about it!
I called her back and told her we didn’t want to impose, and we’d just turn around and head home, all the while the weight inside returned.
In her own little way, she told me not to be silly and to come on. It was snack supper night and there was plenty for everyone.
When we arrived, there were no elaborate decorations. Her house was respectably tidy, but not spotless. And we were welcomed with open arms and a boxed cake mix her kids were dying to make with my husband.
And it was just what my parched spirit needed.
I carry that weekend in my heart even to this day. And her example has shaped how I view hospitality in my own home. She could have said no. She could have sighed and made some veiled joke to express her annoyance at my faux pas. But she didn’t.
Instead, she opened the door, opened her arms, and let us in. And every time annoyance tries to creep in when a friend or acquaintance in need of my time interrupts my agenda—or catches my house in the most honest state of disarray—I remember. I remember the time I showed up unannounced, and I open the door.
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