Friday, January 30, 2009

All Are Welcome

With the storm, there have been many without power. Fortunately we have power and have been able to help out Sister Kathy's sister, brother-in-law, and 2 year old niece as well as one of the parishioners here. This has been an enjoyable experience. It has led me to reflect on hospitality. Here at the monastery, we talk about Benedictine hospitality, but I certainly learned about hospitality long before entering the community.

Everyone was always welcomed at our house. Usually for holiday gatherings, we'd have the usual family around the table, but also the neighbors who weren't with family on that day would come over as well. I remember wondering if Ms. Jane and Mr. Stockman would hook up. Both were elderly and their spouses had died. I know my mom wasn't playing matchmaker, but just making sure everyone had a place to go for the holidays.

Once a college friend stayed with my parents for a year. It was just the 3 of them. At first, my friend would ask permission to do things - like use the phone or eat something. My mom quickly responded, "Giiiirrrrrl, we gotta get something straight. You don't ask around here; you just take!" (Make sure you use a southeast MO drawl when you say those lines.)

Another friend of mine used to come over almost everyday when we were in high school. The first day, he mistakenly came over while we were eating supper. No matter how much he protested, my mom insisted that he eat with us. The next day, he came much later in the evening. That didn't matter to my mom. She insisted that he still eat, so she got a plate and warmed up some food for him. After that she always fixed more food in case he'd come. He'd just help himself. Sometimes we didn't always know if he was still at our house. My brother and I might be doing homework, and he'd be in the other room watching TV. He was welcomed at our house as one of the family. He just made himself at home.

Another time in college, my brother, a friend of ours, and I arrived at my parents' house unexpectedly at midnight. My mom (would you call this love, crazy, or both?) got up, found some food for us, and then stayed up with us for 2 hours talking and sharing funny stories.

OK. OK. Lots of hospitality stories. There are lots more, but here's just one last one - a classic. One afternoon, an elderly woman came to our front door. My mom invited her in, and they sat on the couch in the living room and talked. I was in the other room, so I finished up what I was doing and headed to the living room to say hello. Just as I was getting there, my mom was showing the lady out the door.
"Who was that?" I asked.
"I don't know."
"You don't know who that was?"
"I have no idea."
"Why did she come in?"
"Well, she came to the door, so I invited her in. I didn't know who she was, so I invited her to sit on the couch. I thought if we started talking, I'd figure out who she was. She was actually at the wrong house. She wanted the people down the street."

If I don't know what hospitality is, I must have grown up in the wrong house.

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