Hospitality [Dedicant Path Requirement]

For me, hospitality is a virtue of balance. ADF emphasizes hospitality in terms of ghosti, generous reciprocity; what I think we sometimes forget is that reciprocity does not mean we don’t have to help people if they haven’t helped us first. Khalil Gibran, talking about giving, offers a valuable perspective on hospitality: “You say, ‘I would give, but only to the deserving.’ …yet he who is worthy of his days and nights is worthy of all else from you.” In myth and fairy tales, divine or magical figures often ask for help from those who will later be in need of their aid, which is then freely given in return for their simple kindness. This form of aid stands in sharp contrast to the alternate motif, that of the deal with the devil, or an impossible price. This seems to me to imply that there are rules; things must go in before things come out, and if this rule is followed the balance is kept and all have what they need. They are not rules in the sense of tit-for-tat; I remember being sharply corrected by my mother when I said of a friend, “She owes me; I’ve helped her plenty of times-” with, “Oh, no no no. We do not keep score in this family.” They are rules in the sense of a mutual obligation to care for each other as best we are able. Hospitality is a social safety net; it may be used to rejuvenate loved ones just as much as it may be used to shelter someone with nowhere to go. It is meant to be extended to all in need. In the absence of a cultural tradition that emphasizes hospitality to the extent of housing total strangers, we must find other ways to express this virtue. Hospitality means buying lunch for a stranger down on their luck just as much as it means making breakfast for my sister when she comes to visit. Hospitality is an open-armed offer of succor, a recognition that ‘we’re all in this together.’ Penzey’s bumpersticker said it simplest: “Love people. Cook them tasty food.”

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About November Jones

November Jones lives in a small but very colorful house with three cats and her very noisy partner, codename: Batman.

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