Creating a home that says “welcome” is not just about having the house cleaned up, the baskets of laundry put away, and having a table prepared with a spread of delicious food. I would say it is more about having an attitude of the heart that says “welcome”. Its about cultivating the selflessness and generosity of putting others before you. That is why whether you live in a large mansion on top of a hill, or a small 1 bedroom house made of concrete in Tijuana, Mexico, you can achieve that goal of having a welcoming and hospitable home by having a welcoming and hospitable heart.
Both of my grandmas passed away last year. Both had a gift of hospitality. My Grandma Eleanor lived in an extended-care home. Her room was small, with a bed, a soft rocking chair from her previous apartment, a dresser, photos of all her 10 children and many many grandchildren, a tv, her Bible and devotional books and a couple other wall decorations. My grandma’s earthly possessions were humble, but her heart was a beautiful garden of the riches of Christ. Whenever I came to visit her, she would always be so thrilled. Even when she no longer remembered who I was, she still welcomed me with open arms and offered me a place to sit and talk. All her life, she had offered us treats and juice when we came to visit, and when she was living in the care home, she would always apologize that she couldn’t offer us anything to eat. She would ask us questions about our lives, our work, family. She always wanted to know if we had enough employment and was concerned if we were thinking of traveling on a long trip. As we finished our conversations, she would give a warm embrace and wish us all the best.
My Grandma Katie lived in an apartment and loved to decorate with photos of her children and grandchildren. She loved to sew, knit and crochet. She made blankets, curtains, table coverings, and clothes. She was a master artisan of fabric and yarn. When we came over for a visit, she would stand at her door down the long hallway and wait for us to arrive. Then she would gleefully embrace us and welcome us in. She loved to prepare juice and little snacks she had stored away for visitors. Then we would sit down in her living room and talk about all the news of our lives. As we left, she made sure to always walk us downstairs to the front of the building and wave goodbye until we were out of sight!
This is the heart of hospitality. This is where we turn off our computers, our phones, our twitter and facebook accounts and we silence the distraction of modern technology, to simply be and to simply welcome others into our lives. Hospitality is the art of opening your life and heart to another and welcoming them as you would welcome Jesus. This is what my grandmothers modeled to their children and their grandchildren and great-grandchildren!