“The one who is wise, therefore, will see their life as more like a reservoir than a canal. The canal simultaneously pours out what it receives; the reservoir retains the water until it is filled, then discharges the overflow without loss to itself.” -Bernard of Clairvaux
Hospitality does not begin when the doorbell rings. A warm welcome starts with a warm heart. A warm heart is a heart filled with love “that discharges the overflow without loss to itself.”
A warm heart is an inviting heart. Too often, we fail to invite not because our heart is not filled, but because our life seems overfilled. We are waiting for the right time instead of embracing this time. This time may be filled with the circumstances of life, work, family, health, and any number of other things that make up life. True hospitality invites our guests into the fullness of our life not into an idealized facade.
True hospitality doesn’t apologize for the evidence of these circumstances that decorate our homes. Neither does it embarrass. Sometimes all we need to welcome others into our homes is a place to sit and a door to close. A quick decluttering may be all that is required to clear a place to sit. Nothing chills a warm welcome like worry. A closed door can conceal those things that may make the host or guest uncomfortable.
For invited guests, we have the time to intentionally prepare a warm welcome so that we can be present to the person that is before us without worries or other obligations. However, we sometimes receive uninvited guests. We have a choice when someone arrives unannounced. Will we see that person as an interruption or as a divine appointment?
Points to Ponder:
1. As you consider your ability to offer a warm welcome, what are the ways in which your own heart is being filled to overflowing?
2. What circumstances are you welcoming guests into when they enter your home?
3. Where do you receive guests into your home? If you took fifteen minutes, how might you make it more welcoming?
4. Is there a time that you can remember when you have received an unexpected guest as a divine appointment? What grace did you receive in hosting this guest?