In the few days since we’ve been home and pretending to settle in to our house of chaos (“pretending” because, well, the task is impossible for at least a few more weeks), I’ve learned a little lesson in hospitality. When you invite someone to live with you and then you tell this person that you are serious about being hospitable, this person will take you seriously–and not just take you seriously but unknowingly begin to hold you accountable to being hospitable.
So the house was pretty full last weekend, including the basement couch, as I wrote about yesterday. Among the many boxes of still-unpacked goods, still-unpacked suitcases from being away, stacks of books for next semester, cans of paint, myriad tools, and pieces of plumbing, there were six of us stepping over each other, teasing each other, and eating the nontraditional food that tends to come out of our kitchen.
We’ve been telling A that he can invite people over any time, in fact that we want to have people over all the time, just give us a heads up if he can. We’ve been saying that we’d like to see hospitality as the norm in our house, rather than an inconvenience, which to be honest is more the way I’ve always thought about it, even when I’m in the best of moods.
So Saturday comes along, and on my way to pick up yet another standard wax ring for a toilet from our local hardware store (be thankful if you don’t know what that means), I noticed a voice mail on my phone. It was A, letting us know he had a friend with him for dinner. I called back to say ‘no problem’ and ‘can you please buy some chips at the store?’ and told him we were having homemade pizza. They’d had pizza for lunch, but didn’t seem to mind.
Later, as we squeezed another chair at the table, I began to think about how A’s presence in our house will hold us accountable to being more hospitable. Even when you’re sitting before a table full of food, how often do you think, gosh, we should have invited someone over? Especially if you already have three “someones” over! Probably not very often. But there we were, a new friend at the table, chatting with my grandmother.
And then it happened again: Sunday afternoon, we welcomed another friend in for a visit.
And then Sunday night, our new friend from Saturday’s pizza dinner came back to hang out and play a made up version of Trivial Pursuit with us. We’re nerds, but that’s okay with us.
And on Thursday night, friend #3 will be coming over for dinner.
What I’m trying to express here is that even with the best of intentions to be hospitable, it’s often so much easier just to focus on the task at hand–tearing out a bathroom, for instance, or painting the dining room–rather than noticing how easy it would be to offer our home to others.
But having A here is changing all that, and I like it.
Did you hear that? I like it.