[edited to further clarify this a quality I strive for, not something I have already achieved.]
Thinking more on the theme of hospitality, I made a connection that it doesn’t necessarily have to be something you practice within your home. The more I think on it, the more I’m understanding hospitality to be a state of mind, a way of life. I think some people just have hospitable personalities that make you want to take residence in the living room of their soul.
I don’t know that I have that sort of personality – though I believe I’m good at creating a hospitable environment – but I am challenging myself to be more warm and outgoing toward others, particularly strangers.
The other day I was sitting in my living room reading. It was quiet – Bryan and the kids were napping, and I had turned off my music to gain some peace of mind. In the quiet with my windows open, I heard the squealing of tires, then a crash. I paused to listen closer, and when I heard shouting I grabbed my cell phone and ran out the door.
As I trotted down to the main intersection at the corner where my wine bar is located, I saw three cars. I approached the first and asked if they were okay, but then I saw a car to my left, all the way up on the sidewalk. The woman inside was leaning back against her seat, her eyes closed and unmoving. Her window was open, so I leaned in to ask if she was okay. She pointed to her chest where the seat belt caught her, but nodded that she was okay.
A man was already on the phone calling for help, so I continued talking to this woman, who told me her name was Winnifred. I asked again if she was okay, and if there was anyone she needed to call. She told me she needed to be at work in the building down the street by 3:00, and did I think she could still make it. I checked my watch, which already read 3:08, and I asked her if I could call somebody to say she would be late.
She closed her eyes and teared up, and before I knew what I was doing I put a hand on her shoulder and told her I would stay with her until help arrived. Quietly, I prayed for her, as she seemed very shaken.
Thank you, she whispered.
It took me a minute to get down the street from my house. By the time I arrived there were many people standing around watching, but only myself and the man on the phone approached the woman in the car – and interestingly, when the man went to catch his bus, he shook my hand and said, “God bless you, sister,” and he didn’t say it lightly. I could tell it came from a place of Belief.
I once watched with curiosity as my friend stopped to talk to a homeless woman in my neighborhood and extended ways in which she could personally help her. I had no idea what made her capable of doing this, and chalked it up to just not being my thing. But as I am released from the prison of my own selfishness, I find there is more room in my heart to care for others and their well-being.
In this way I am learning that the practice of hospitality is more than just inviting people to my home on my terms. It extends into my community as I interact: I say hello to someone walking past me, I place a hand on the shoulder of someone in need, I make conversation with the barista. These are all acts of hospitality that invite people into community, that connect us together, that make it more than just about me.