This is day 3 in a 31 day series on hospitality. You can find a listing of the other days here.
“Hospitality is a lively, courageous, convivial way of living that challenges our compulsion either to turn away or to turn inward and disconnect ourselves from others.”
Our rugged American individualism hasn’t really done us any favors where hospitality is concerned. Combine that with our obsession with electronics and you have, perhaps, the loneliest group of people that have ever lived.
We are desperately lonely.
To fight off that desperation, we fill our schedules to overflowing. “Maybe if I cram in one more thing, the ache will go away.” At least I won’t be alone in my loneliness.
When that doesn’t work, we settle for the company of screens—our phones and iPads and computers.
We hide behind our schedules and all our gadgets so much that we don’t even really see each other anymore.
Occasionally, when a crisis hits, we are jarred awake to our need for others but for most of our lives, we live in blurry state of self-sufficiency and self-absorption.
But, we were never meant for this modern isolationism.
Hospitality has its roots in the ancient world, where caring for strangers was a matter of life and death. They were keenly aware of their need for each other and it was a matter of survival.
Our modern conveniences have tricked us into thinking we can do this alone. But the deep ache in our hearts tells us another story.
We are all pilgrims on the same journey and it’s as if we are walking on the same path but ignoring each other. We don’t see our neighbor’s needs or even our own for that matter because we’ve so numbed and distracted ourselves. Stop and look around. People are hurting. They are lonely and despairing. They need someone who sees them. They need a kind word, a good deed. And the truth is, so do we.
In our haste and distraction, we’ve stopped looking at each other.
Do you remember the last person you actually looked in the eyes? I have to really think on that one. Did I even look my own children in the eyes today?
We are not rugged individualists at our core. We are vulnerable, lonely people who NEED each other.
And not only have we stopped caring for each other, we’ve stopped seeing each other.
Hospitality, in the truest sense, is our need to be known and loved—to really be seen.
It is not primarily the opening of our homes but the opening of our hearts to receive others. To really receive them.
We cannot learn to be gracious until we learn to be available.
We cannot learn to be available to someone we won’t even look at or acknowledge.
It’s not so much food we need from each other but love and kindness.
This kind of hospitality doesn’t require a perfectly ordered guest room or a gourmet meal; it requires an open heart, a heart willing to really see someone else and welcome him.
Today’s challenge::: Put down your gadget and really look at the people in your life. Look right into their eyes. Acknowledge that this is a person who you need and who needs you.
This is the face of God in your life today—–this is the antidote for our collective loneliness.
We need each other. Don’t go it alone.