Guest Post by Judy Beach, LUT
Hospitality is defined by Merriam-Webster as the generous and friendly treatment of visitors and guests: the activity of providing food, drinks, etc. for people who are the guests or customers of an organization. We in the south are typically recognized by our “southern hospitality.” Certainly, I have been treated to the hospitality of the folks at Unity of San Antonio. We may be conscious in our homes and in our church of these visitors and guests entering our place. But what is our space? Is it just in our homes and church?
As I dig a little deeper into the concept of hospitality, I am reminded of Henri Nouwen’s book Reaching Out. As a Dutch Catholic priest, professor, writer and theologian, Henri wrote over 40 books on spirituality. He describes hospitality as primarily creating a free space where the guest can enter and become a friend and not an enemy. Therefore, hospitality offers people a space where change can take place. It is a freedom for a guest to find his/her own way.
Hostility, on the other end of the paradox, would have us wanting to change people with our stories, advice, and judgments. Well, I for one, have wanted to change another person. You may hear someone talk about another person, saying they are, for example, rude. I had an experience of a rude person on a plane. As a frequent flyer, I am allowed priority boarding. I like the window seat, and usually, can snatch one and get settled before others begin to take the middle seats. The middle seat is the one almost everyone avoids. As I sat on the plane in Kansas City, boarding was complete, and I had the luxury of no one sitting in the middle seat. Yea! Until…a woman carrying way too much carry-on luggage comes right to the seat next to me. She is awkward and bumps me in the face with a bag as she is trying to get settled in a hurry. Wow! I thought, how rude!
Then I remembered that “nothing and no one is against me.” Being a Q coach, I realized this as an opportunity to “bless, endow something with the capacity to be a positive force in my life.” This woman offered me an opportunity to see my sense of lack in that moment. Remembering “who I have come here to be” allowed me to let go of being right. I reclaimed my whole self and asked if I could help her. She opened up and told me her daughter had called to tell her that she was in early labor in New Orleans. My new friend was about to become a first-time grandmother and had just barely made it to the plane. We talked all the way to Dallas. As we departed she was calm and able to accept that she might not make it before the birth. She was a delight. I could have sat on that hour and a half flight in a fussy (read in a stronger word) manner.
What would the world look like if we all were allowed a freedom to find our way with generous hospitality? Even for ourselves? What would your life look and feel like if you lived with “Nothing and No One Against You?”
Editor’s note: Judy will present the workshop “The Art and Practice of Living with Nothing and No One Against You” on April 30th in the Unity Heights CommUNITY Center. You can pre-register after church in the foyer as you exit this Sunday. Pre-registration is only $99.00; registration at the door is $125.00. Don’t miss your chance for the pre-registration rate. Cash, checks, and credit card payment options are available. Check our blog or contact us for more information.