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Spiritual ABC's -- Letter H (part 2)

Practice hospitality in a world where too often strangers are feared, enemies are hated, and the “other” is shunned. Welcome guests and alien ideas with graciousness.

I keep coming back here and looking at this root of another post -- and I cannot seem to do this one.

I tried to find a way to work from the rule of hospitality that St. Benedict put in place for monastics in about 500 A.D.  I remember a story I was told once, about a monk at a monastery who's assignment was to open the gate to visitors.  Because the rule in Benedictine monasteries is to welcome all who come "as if it were Christ, himself," the monk answered the bell for the gate one night, after dinner, and welcomed in a stranger. Taking the man in, the gatekeeper prepared the traveler a simple meal, and made him comfortable in an available room.  Returning to his evening activities, preparing for sleep, the monk was again called by the bell at the gate, and again, he welcomed in the stranger, preparing a cup of tea, and showing them to their quarters for the night.  Finally, asleep in his own bed, the monk was awakened in the quiet dark hours by the ringing of the bell from the gate.  Tumbling from his warm bed, and staggering out to open for the midnight visitor, one could hear (if one were awake) the monk muttering to himself, "Jesus Christ!  Is it you again?"

I like that story,  but it doesn't really enlighten me when it comes to the practice of "hospitality."  

I found lots of sermons about hospitality, extolling the virtues of taking others where they are, welcoming the stranger, taking the risk...  I can sit, and read, and nod to myself, but there is nothing there that moves me.

The fact is, I'm not that comfortable with the whole business of welcoming strangers.  I like my place, my privacy, my settled ways.  I can welcome people who have been invited in, for whom I am prepared.  I enjoy entertaining in that mode.  Let me tidy the house and light the candles and choose some good music and prepare a pleasant meal -- and I'll be glad to spend an evening with friends who will, of course, have the good sense to leave at a civilized hour.  But strnagers?  Not so much.  

I've got a whole list of things that I know I should be better at.  This one is right there.  Blech!



  1. I am so with you on this one!
    Hermits unite!! LOL

  2. Impish17:11 PM

    I'm afraid I'm here, too. I even sometimes think of those I've invited in: are you ever going to go home? I go to bed, and get up early, even on weekends. Boring!

  3. I think one has to be discriminating. And why not? Abandonment of common sense is not usually a good idea unless with intimate friends. But I made an interesting friend of a tramp I invited in when he called at the door asking for water. I met him several times in the course of three years, but he did have a difficult habit of wetting the bed. I gave him an old Army style overcoat which he wore permanently - wouldn't even take it off to leave with the cloakroom girl in the cinema when we went to see Lawrence of Arabia.

  4. i don't know swan - but it seems to me that in today's world opening one's door to strangers and inviting them in - is a bit fool hardy and maybe just a bit dangerous.

  5. Hey, this is sad to know! I have been following your blog for a while and i think it is a great blog. Crazy that my first comment is going to be on your last post though.
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