Episode 5: Practicing Hospitality (Even on Facebook)

As we draw near to the holiday season, you might be thinking a lot about inviting people into your home, which is a wonderful thing to do! But that’s not all there is to the spiritual practice of hospitality. In this episode, Erin talks about what true hospitality looks like and the reason we should focusing on it during this season of the year especially.


We are so ‘full’ of ourselves that there is no room left for God. And that means there is no room for others either, for children, for the poor, for the stranger.
— Pope Benedict XVI

Practice

  • Be open to inviting someone new into your circle or your life. Be on the lookout for people you come across who seem to be in need of a friend. Approach them with kindness, keeping in mind that they probably have more to offer you than you to them.

  • Look for ways in which you could simplify your life so that you have more room for others. Perhaps by keeping one day a week free on your calendar, or by cleaning out the guest bedroom so that it can be used. Simplify simply by not being so concerned with other people’s opinions of you.

  • Make room in conversations by listening to the person you’re with. Even in these short moments (after church, at work, in passing at the grocery store,…) there is great potential for Christ to break in if you let him.

  • Pay attention to how you are interacting with people online. Are you as kind and patient as you would be in person? Don’t allow yourself to be baited, and inject kindness and love wherever you can.


Reflect

  • Am I hospitable to myself? Am I at home with myself? (Questions about ourselves are hard. You might need the help of a really close friend or counselor to help you sort through some of this.)

  • How have my fears caused me to be narrow-minded and closed off toward my neighbor (and God, and the stranger…)?

  • Am I able to withdraw and make space for another person to be and feel free in my presence, or do I feel the need to assert myself at all times?

Hospitality is the virtue that allows us to break through the narrowness of our own fears and to open our houses to the stranger, with the intuition that salvation comes to us in the form of a tired traveler.
— Henri Nouwen, The Wounded Healer



Resources

Hebrews 13: 1-2

Deuteronomy 10: 18-19

The Wounded Healer, by Henri Nouwen

Spiritual Disciplines Handbook, by Adele Calhoun

Hospitality means primarily the creation of free space where the stranger can enter and become a friend instead of an enemy. Hospitality is not to change people, but to offer them space where change can take place. It is not to bring men and women over to our side, but to offer freedom not disturbed by dividing lines.
— Henri Nouwen, Reaching Out
Erin Ware