what is hospitality?

Copyright Sarah Joelle Photography http://www.sarahjoellephotography.com/

Copyright Sarah Joelle Photography http://www.sarahjoellephotography.com/

People have told me that I have the gift of hospitality, but after what I read today, I am not so sure.

The word hospitality comes from the Latin hospes, meaning “host”, “guest”, or “stranger”. In some foreign or ancient cultures, the act of hospitality – welcoming strangers into the home – was necessary for survival, Today, it is often defined in Western culture simply as a warm, friendly reception for guests, involving etiquette and entertainment.

I like to have people in my home. Over the years, I have had plenty of room, extra beds or at least sleeping bags and carpet, and abundant blankets and pillows. I have had the means to buy or cook extra food. I usually knew the people who stayed with me, or at least they came recommended by others. My guests were usually clean, educated, polite, and with mostly similar values. I could easily go about my day-to-day activities, even with guests in my home.

I gave only out of my abundance.

Here are a few of the challenging quotes I read today:

“…we must continue to beg the stranger to come into our lives because in the stranger may come the only honesty and insight we can get in our plastic worlds.” (p 125)

“It is easy to give clothes to the poor but refuse to honor the ones to whom we have given the goods.” (p. 127)

Hospitality is when: “Everyone receives a warm answer – on the phone, at the door, in the office. Sarcasm has no room here. Put-downs have no room here. One-upmanship has no room here. Classism has no room here.” (p, 127-128)

“…hospitality demands the extra effort, the extra time, the extra care that stretches beyond and above the order of the day.” (p. 128)

“We have to wonder how we can help the poor at the doorstep who live thousands of miles away. Hospitality says that the problem is mine, not someone else’s. It is my door and my heart upon which these people are knocking for attention.” (p. 129)

“Real hospitality lies in bending some efforts to change things, to make a haven for the helpless, to be voice for the voiceless. We have to learn to take our own sense of home to others.” (p. 130)

“I cannot fool myself into thinking that being nice to those who are my kind and my class suffices for the moral dimensions of hospitality.” (p. 130)

“Hospitality is the way we turn a prejudiced world around, one heart at a time.” (p. 130)

“…hospitality is the willingness to be interrupted and inconvenienced…” (p. 131)

“Hospitality doesn’t exist unless we go out of ourselves for someone else at least once a day.” (p. 132)

“Hospitality is one of those things that has to be constantly practiced or it won’t be there for the rare occasion.” (p. 132)

Hospitality “is an act of the recklessly generous heart.” (p. 132)

I think you can see why I am re-evaluating my “gift” of hospitality. I have a long way to go before it could be said that I give from a “recklessly generous heart”. I have a lot to think about… and apply!

How hospitable are you? Which of these aspects of hospitality do you do well? Which ones challenge you to do better?


These challenging quotes come from the book Wisdom Distilled from the Dally, by Joan D. Chittister.

My daughter took the incredibly beautiful photograph of the table setting. Check out her amazing photography at Sarah Joelle Photography.

destroying double standards

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Last week I re-posted in honor of my anniversary,”Tips for a long-lasting marriage or friendship“. The first tip I listed was partnership.

Then this morning I was reading the chapter, “Making Your Partner a Real Partner” from Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg… so I have partnership on the brain today!

Sandberg writes mainly advocating for women in leadership, but this chapter
advocates very much for men.

One thing that has concerned me through the years has been the limited role of men in home and family. As a woman blessed to have a spouse who has been a “real partner” for our 28 years of marriage, I find it easy to advocate for real partnership in marriage, home, and work.

Sandberg mentions various barriers to real partnership at home that I have seen and experienced myself. She also suggests ways to overcome the barriers. I wonder if you can relate to any of these?

1. Empowerment

Just as woman struggle with lack of empowerment in the business world, men often face a lack of empowerment at home.Too many times I have heard women criticize their husbands’ for how they feed, dress, or interact with their children. In my opinion, these women not only sound disrespectful and insulting, but also prideful, and they are doing their marriage partnership a great disservice (and increasing their own work load). Sandberg correctly states, “Anyone who wants her mate to be a true partner must treat him as an equal–and equally capable–partner.“¹ it is fine to choose task assignments according to preference or skill, but assuming and communicating that a man cannot do (or learn to do) a good job at home is demeaning and de-motivating. On the other hand, empowering will help to take down the barriers between real partners.

2. Encouragement

Derogatory jokes, lack of role models, and social stereotypes all make it more difficult for men to openly and actively participate as full partners at home. I have known a few men who were the primary care-givers for their children. I have known more men who shared equally home and family responsibilities (my husband included).Others teased, questioned, and sometimes isolated these men because of their desire and commitment to actively engage as true partners, rather than praised and honored for their choices.Thankfully, these men did not have the (oft-ascribed) fragile male egos I am frequently warned about, and they refused to be discouraged or dissuaded by stereotypical expectations. Men and women both can do a better job at encouraging men when they act as true partners.

3. Employment policies

Most companies do not offer men the same paternal benefits that are available to women. According to Sandberg, “Only two states offer paid family leave that fathers can use”². Men often pay an even bigger penalty than women via social pressure, low performance ratings,and fewer advancement opportunities if they take time off to prioritize family needs. I believe we need to improve the organizational/governmental policies and laws to support true partnership.

Sandberg claims that true marriage partnership results in greater satisfaction, less divorce, and more sex³, and greater father involvement produces “higher levels of psychological well-being and better cognitive abilities”⁴ and “higher levels of educational and economic achievement and lower delinquency rates”⁴ for the children. These benefits motivate me to work to eliminate the double standards that inhibit true partnership.

Are there ways you can improve true partnership in your marriage?

If you are dating, are you establishing true partnership patterns today for future marriage? 


**For more chapter summaries from Lean In, read here and here.

¹ Sandberg, Sheryl. Lean In. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2013, pg. 109, para. 2. 
² Ibid, pg. 113, para. 2.
³ Ibid, pg. 118, para. 1. 
⁴ Ibid, pg. 113, para. 1.

only the best

One day, a man walked into an antique shop and asked permission to look around. It was a rather exclusive shop frequented only by those who could afford to purchase articles made rare by their scarcity and age. The visitor seemed strangely out of place because he was poorly dressed though clean; indeed it was clear from his appearance that he was a laborer whose face and been etched by sun and rain and whose hands were rough and worn. After more than a half hour, he left. In about ten days he returned. This time he found a very beautiful piece of glass and asked if he could make a deposit on it. Each week he made a payment, until at last the article was his. With much curiosity, the owner of the shop engaged him in conversation to determine, if he could, the use to which such a man would put his new purchase. “I bought it for my little room.   It isn’t much, but I bring to it, from time to time, through the years, only the very best and beautiful things. You see, that is where I live.” 
                                             Howard Thurman, Deep is the Hunger                                                                                                       

To bring to where you live only the very best and most beautiful…

I read this story this morning and began to consider my life…

Of all the thoughts that pass through during the day, which will I keep for my room? Will I choose to keep only the positive, encouraging, believe-the-best, excellent ideas about myself, others and my world?

What will I bring into my home through my music, media, activity and reading choices? Are they only the very best and beautiful things? Worth their price? Valuable?

There is a lot of cheap, ugly junk quickly and conveniently available in our world today. On the other hand, it takes time, effort, care, attentiveness, and diligent searching to find a priceless treasure.

It is said that where your treasures are, that is where your heart is also.

What treasures are you collecting for your home?