Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The art of informal hospitality PART 1

My husband and I both find deep satisfaction in inviting people into our homes and creating for them a sense of community and loving family. We meet deeply in that common joy and therefore I want to chronicle our stumbling attempts; give advice where I have it, and seek in turn to learn your stories and wisdom in this matter.

When my husband and I moved into our first apartment after returning from our summer-long excursion backpacking Europe two and a half years ago we were hungry for community. As we had never had the blessing of having friends who were also married (or even dating!) we were absolutely delighted to begin forming a friendship with the couple in the apartment across from ours. I had known Emily for most of my life since our moms had been roomates at Wheaton but we had only interacted during occasional reunions esp after Emily's family moved to Alaska. Our paths crossed again at Wheaton college but we lived separate lives where in her words we were only "hi" friends. But, all of a sudden we had all of this shared experience to bond over; both newlyweds married a day apart, childhood friends, parents with history, same college, etc etc. We loved those first awkward dinners and game nights where we strove to dive into relationship. We were both so hungry for couple friends. Then Ben began to invite other young couples from our complex to join us for dinner once a week. After our initial shyness wore off joy abounded. All of a sudden 6 couples had a community where before they had been aliens in a new land!
We finally had those neighbors we could pop over to to borrow a cup of sugar, or a movie, or invite to an impromptu picnic in the courtyard. We shared life together; them watching me as my stomach grew to the size of a barn during those sweltering August days. Them surrounding us and sending dinners and cookies and free babysitting as we adjusted to the 9 lb 7 ozs of screaming new life in our home. We discussed theology and ancient languages; hermeneutics and philosophy in the common context of grad school. We learned the art of squeezing 12 people into a small apartment and cooking a big, healthy and inexpensive meal without getting stressed out. We had SO much fun that year, learning to live life together.

All it took was the initial awkwardness of stopping someone in the hall or on a sidewalk, getting to know them, and inviting them into our home. I challenge you to enrich your lives by practicing the spiritual discipline of hospitality.

to be cont...

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