My husband and I are known for being easy going. But if you could have stood in the corner of our guestroom while we tried to decide how to arrange it before our company arrived last weekend you would have thought otherwise. We both have strong opinions and it doesn’t take much for us to start butting heads like a couple of pygmy goats. We have a great marriage. But our marriage requires a lot of work. Yet even with the tense conversations about bed covers and pillowcases, we have found that practicing hospitality has a way of bring us together.
So often these days household has become synonymous with house, a building where you sleep and shower, occasionally take in a movie or a meal. But household is something much more complex. A household is a place where all life and culture begin. All of us are products of our households, we first learned there how to be people and to function in society. In our family we have found that when we open our home we open our hearts up too. Somehow in the hosting process we are able to loosen our grip on the things that separate us and are reminded of what it means to function as a unit.
Practicing hospitality puts flesh onto the bones of our values. Something as simple as inviting guests, cooking and talking, has become way for us to establish our own sense of home. It reminds us that our household is a productive place and that what we accomplish here is something bigger in sum than what either of us could do alone.
Hospitality also lets us see the best in each other. My husband admires how I can pull together a meal, while I’m impressed with how he can carry a conversation. Through this process practicing hospitality has brought healing to some of the broken and hurting places in our marriage.
I was thinking about all this over the weekend when we hosted our first guests (since our move, we finally have most of the boxes unpacked, though not much on the walls and we used mix matched bed covers, but still had an amazing time), and as I was reading Wendell Berry’s essay, The Body and the Earth for our reading group. Here are some of his pieced together ideas on the topic.
The marriage vow unites not just a woman and a man with each other; it unites each of them with the community in a vow of sexual responsibility toward all other. . .
There can be no such thing as a “global village.” No matter how much one may love the world as a whole, one an live fully in it only by living responsibly in some part of it. . .
To reduce marriage, as we have done, to a mere contract of sexual exclusiveness is at once to degrade it and to make it impossible. That is to take away its dignity and its potency of joy and to make it only a pitiful little duty-not a union but a division and a solitude. . .
To last, love must enflesh itself in the materiality of the world-produce food, shelter, warmth or shade, surround itself with careful acts, well-made things. . .
Only by restoring the broken connections can we be healed.
For us hospitality is a way to demonstrate our love of humanity right here where we live. After all, each of us is made of flesh and Spirit and each cup of coffee shared over our table is tiny step towards restoration between broken people, the creation and the God of the universe. Each bed made builds a another connection between us, in our marriage, and to the rest of the world.
This post is part of a series of reflections on The Art of The Commonplace. For more Liturgy of Life, subscribe or follow on facebook. To learn more about our reading group, click here, or check out our facebook group. We would love to have you read and ponder along with us.
Thanks for being here,