We were friends before we ever lived in the same town. Pinterest led me to her blog a week before we traveled to Alabama, and then I chanced to meet her at a park. We knew pretty quickly that we were best friend material.
That summer we decided to move to her area, but first we had to go home and pack up life in NY. She kept our friendship alive during those three crazy months–calling me when I was in the middle of the overwhelm of packing boxes and keeping four children alive just to say, “I miss your face.”
Our first morning in Alabama I was walking across the meadow from our campsite to where our doublewide had been set, and there she was–running across the green to me—our first guest, arriving before our house could even welcome her. I ran to meet her. We hugged. And she handed me a quart jar full of green smoothie.
After two days on the road and no kitchen to cook in yet, it was the most delicious thing I’d tasted in a month. This was hospitality.
They’re allergic to gluten. We aren’t. Yet we love to hang out together. So, I’ve learned to cook some meals that all our kids like–and that don’t make anyone break out in hives. But sometimes we wanna get together when we haven’t had time to plan. I’m out of rice pasta. Or potato starch. I can’t make anything they can eat–and my kids don’t like their lettuce boat tacos.
We’ve found a solution that works. It goes against most, if not everything I was taught about having guests in my home. I text her, “Let’s do a ‘Bring Your Own Lunch.” She arrives with her cooler full of meat and veggies, I loan her a pan. I throw our glutenous lunch in another pan, and we slap it on paper plates and call our combined eight children to the table. No one complains—they’re all hungry from a morning of swimming—and the fellowship we crave happens.
We can share a table even when we can’t share our food.
Three years of living in a bus, or in a house full or moving boxes, or an even smaller house full of boxes, or being on the road with no home at all for days or even weeks at a time—this season has taught me a thing or two about hospitality.
It’s reworked my understanding of what hospitality is supposed to look like. It’s helped me to see that hospitality is not something that only happens when circumstances are just right—when you have a table big enough, the right kind of food, the time to plan, and the energy to execute the plan.
Hospitality is an art, not a science. Science has boundaries, rules, expectations, limits. Art is without rules. It’s open to individual interpretation—in fact, that’s what art is all about.Hospitality is not about carefully worded invitations, planned menus, set tables, invited guests, set times, and the usual places. It’s about loving others well, whenever or wherever the opportunity presents itself, each act an original masterpiece.
That means hospitality can be a smoothie in the middle of a meadow, or fellowshipping over diet differences. It means hospitality can happen despite language barriers, social expectations, space limitations, and mismatched plates.
We know this. We all nod in agreement. But we still need to write it out. Speak it to ourselves and each other so we hear the truth. Hospitality is an art form. It will and should look different for each of us. So, go forth and create your art.