The Spirit of Hospitality
Even though I was raised in family with seven children, there always seemed to be room for one more around the dinner table. My dad taught at a local fine arts college and often brought students home for dinner, gave them a place to stay for a night when they were down on their luck, or even offered them a room during the holidays when they weren’t able to make a trip back home. Even though he had a large family of his own to care for on a teacher’s salary, my dad was always willing to help someone in need. I’ve heard that hospitality begins at home and that those of modest means are often the most willing to share what they have. My dad had the biggest spirit of hospitality I’ve ever seen.
If we take a look around, are there people in need that we are failing to notice? Even though most of us prefer the safety of our comfort zones, true hospitality often compels us to step outside our boundaries and reach out to those who are unlike us. It’s easy to get so caught up in our differences that we fail to recognize that the tattooed, pierced store clerk, and the homeless man selling newspapers on the corner, and the pregnant teenager sitting next to us on the subway are all our brothers and sisters. Serving others and loving others is the heart of a hospitable spirit and includes sharing who we are as well as what we have. Our love for one another is a direct expression of our love for ourselves, and it’s important to think about how we might help all our brothers and sisters in need, no matter how diverse we are.
My dad practiced hospitality by offering his students a hot meal or a warm bed as often as needed. Even though he passed away in 1978, he is still fondly remembered in part because of this simple practice. One of his former college students told me just a couple of months ago via Facebook that my dad was the kindest, most generous man he had ever known. That’s pretty high praise coming from someone 35 years later. Here’s to you, John Spicer…