Monday, February 1, 2016

Hospitality Defined



Can we be honest for a moment? No? Well, I'm going to be anyway.

There's a reason you think that hospitality is hard and it's not just because you're an introvert. It's because people have learned you can make money from it. There are magazines, stores, blogs, you name it based on hospitality. We even have degrees for people who want to make a living in the hospitality industry. It's turned into an industry!

 Typically us introverts don't like throwing parties because of the over stimulation. Oh, and the work to make it happen. We've all done it, wanted to spend time with people, invited them over, spent way too much time and money on a meal, cleaned corners of our home that we haven't paid attention to since the day we moved in, yelled at our children to pick up their rooms and threatened them with restrictions if they don't empty the dishwasher right now! At the end of the night, the bench mark of successful visit is that they walk away happy and there were no lulls in conversation or awkward body functions.

 Here comes the honest part, that's not hospitality. That's self centered entertainment. I know, I know, ouch! Now that we have that bandaid ripped off, maybe we can get to the real problem of us and hospitality. The problem is that we've come to believe that entertaining people is the heart of hospitality. When people come over, we've decided to make their happiness our responsibility. And that's self centered because at the end of our time together, it's about what we are able to create for our friends or frenemies, depending on what type of party it was. We decide to host more people if we're good at it because they're events that bolster our self esteem. Sure we might like the people and enjoy seeing them, but their happiness isn't actually related to hospitality. And here's why, hospitality is actually about creating time and space for people to be real.

  Hospitality is creating time and space for people to be real. 

That's not my original thought. I gathered it from Henri Nouwen, he talks about it in several of his books including Reaching Out. It's a great book, definitely worth the time to read it.

 If hospitality really is about allowing others to be real, then what we serve for dinner becomes far less important than the state of our heart when we're together. That pile in the corner can wait if it means me spending a few moments in prayer for not only my guest, but for our time together. The really hard part about hospitality isn't preparing your home, but preparing yourself. It means becoming aware of your guest and receptive to reading their cues. Offering them rest, refreshment, activity as they need. It's not a checklist that can be ticked off as the evening goes by, it's a relationship.

 That relationship is something that I'm going to be exploring here on the blog this February. I've got a list below, it'll probably change some, but at the end, hopefully, we'll be ready to have time and space for hospitality in our own lives.

29 day's of hospitality blog schedule

1. Hospitality definition
2. Immediate family
3. House guests
4. Extended house guests
5. Neighbors
6. Co-workers
7. Out and about
8. Introverts unite
9. Extroverts check yourself
10. Me time
11. Guest room
12. Home care
13. Pantry rules
14. Birthdays
15. Long distance 
16. Big parties
17. Little gatherings
18. Coffee house
19. Your children's friends
20. When you don't wanna
21. At the DMV
22. Coffee service
23. Inviting folks in
24. Kicking folks out
25. Anniversaries
26. Grief
27. The well written note
28. Hospitality redefined
29. What's stopping you?

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