This last weekend, we drove nine hours to attend a friend’s wedding, and we stayed with perfect strangers. Okay, they weren’t complete strangers, but they were friends-of-said-friend, we’d never met them, and our friend had never been to their house. So for all intents and purposes, they were perfect strangers to us.
We were immediately welcomed into this home with open arms. It was like a bed & breakfast, except that it was bed & breakfast, lunch, and dinner. When we arrived, homemade sticky buns were being taken out of the oven. Steaks were put on the grill. We ate poolside and enjoyed conversing about everything from vegetables to families to churches to house renovations to methane gas production. We drank tea and coffee and ate blueberry slump. We turned down the lights when the mosquitoes came out, and we continued our conversation in the dark.
As we crawled into the antique bed in our guest room that first night, we felt welcomed, appreciated, and a bit spoiled. J said to me, “I didn’t expect it to be so personal. I think we might run out of things to say by the end of the weekend.”
We didn’t run out of things to say, of course, not even Sunday morning over the homemade breakfast set before us, after our car was packed and we were ready to head out. We didn’t run out of things to say, but J was right. The welcome, the conversation, the hospitality, the weekend—it was personal.
I want to offer that kind of hospitality, I want to be personal, because that’s really at the heart of community, it seems to me. We can’t be community to each other unless we are real to each other.
What that looks like on a daily basis, I’m not sure yet. But it’s worth figuring out.