Hospitality: What does that even mean?

In Finance and Budget, People by Megan Toombs Kinard0 Comments

We live in a hustle-bustle, hurried, high-tech world. We barely have time to grab a bite to eat as we dash to our next appointment or event. If we spend time with others, there’s a good chance it’s “hanging out” at a coffee shop or a park.

So, it’s not surprising that a lot of people struggle to practice hospitality, or perhaps even know what “practicing hospitality” means. Urban Dictionary defines it as, “treating guests or strangers in a friendly/generous way.”

But, why is hospitality important?

When we invite someone into our home we are showing that we care for them. We are giving them the two most valuable things we have: our time and our resources. And let’s face it, who among us has outgrown the warmth of a home? And a home will always afford a greater opportunity for more intimate sharing. All of this adds up to showing love.

By now we might be picturing our parents or grandparents homes—a big table covered in food, a nicely decorated house, plenty of space to park, and a yard for games. Or maybe we see an older house, with a kitchen table scarred from all the grandkids playing games or spilling food, where grandma always has our favorite treats just for us.

These are wonderful examples of loving hospitality, but they are not the only possible examples.

Perhaps you are thinking, “I’m young and broke, how can I show hospitality!?”  Or, “There is no extra space in my apartment.” Most people, at some point in their lives, think that what they have is not sufficient for themselves, let alone to share with other people. But is that true? I would hazard a guess that for most of us, the answer is “no.”

Maybe we can try thinking differently. Instead of thinking about what we have to offer, think about what the other person needs. Sleeping on the floor is a wonderful gift to a person who doesn’t have a place to stay. Eating ramen and watching a movie could be the perfect thing for someone who is looking for a friend. Taking soup is a mercy to a person who is sick, or a family that is hurting. There are myriad things you can do for another person that show love and hospitality without spending more than you can afford, and, if necessary, without even bringing them to your house.

So next time you have the opportunity, jump in. Offer what you have. I think you will find it’s more than enough and there will be an added surprise benefit, you will get more than you give! So bake the cake or boil the Ramen, and don’t forget to relax and enjoy!

Megan is the Director of Communications for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, and Editor of You can follow her on Twitter @MeganToombs.

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