First of all, thanks to all of you kind folks who responded with such encouragement and positivity! Y’all are the best. For real.
(“Thees ees for reals!” *in Esquelito voice*)
If you don’t know who Esquelito is, brace yourselves. I’m about to get even less cool.
Today’s post is going to start with a story. We’ll call it Story Time Sunday, for the sake of the alliteration.
Even though today is Wednesday.
(I love blogs that have cute little alliterative titles. But I digress….)
Today’s story comes from Tolkien’s epic, The Hobbit. In this story, Bilbo and his dwarf cohort need to get to the Lonely Mountain by Durin’s day to defeat the dragon, protect the people of Laketown, and reclaim the Arkenstone. At the time we’re entering the story, they have already almost been eaten by wolves, goblins, and several other unsavory characters. Basically, these folks need some dinner and a good nap. Enter, The Last Homely House.The House has everything- food, beds, and some very protective elves. Convenient and finally, safe.
Ever since I first read this book as a child, I realized that this was what I wanted my house to be, I wanted to welcome tired and frightened people into my home. It resonated with me in an oddly poignant way. I’d go back and read it over and over again when all their other adventures were stressing me out. I’m sure my friends were like, “yeah, adventure, getting chased by people, seeing new lands, yeah!” While I was like, “yeah, come hide in my safe house, I’ll protect you, yeah!”
Except none of my friends actually talk like… that.
Regardless, I felt that connection to this kind of valiant hospitality even as a 5th grader. It wasn’t this sort of stuff they advertise in the checkout aisle at the grocery store, where successful hospitality is measured by how authentic your woodland-themed table setting is.It was something that felt really important. It was something that felt brave.
For those of you who aren’t Lord of the Rings buffs, let’s take a look at Jesus.
(If people who aren’t Lord of the Rings buffs are even still with me...)
“Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table.” John 12: 1-2
This is one of those “What would you do it you only had 6 months to live” things. Jesus had six days left on earth. Six. Days. And He wanted to go to his friends’ house and let them make Him dinner. That makes me think that this hospitality stuff has some real significance to it. He could have been healing droves of people, doing miracles, performing signs, casting out demons- basically any number of things. But He was tired and heavy-hearted and one of the last things He wanted was dinner with his friends. He knew that He could come to Mary and Martha’s house and be protected and nourished. Their hospitality sustained and comforted Him as He was preparing to go to the cross. I love this story because it’s really the same premise as the Last Homely House.
That’s why I get so sad when women feel like hospitality is something that is an insult to them. I’m thankful that women are not confined to the home as their only sphere of influence- that we have the freedom to travel, to work outside the home, even the freedom to not open our homes if we don’t want to. At the same time, though, I hope that we won’t miss an opportunity to welcome others into our Homely Houses because we don’t want to be perceived a certain way.
So, gentle reader, what does valiant hospitality look like for you? What are some of the expectations and misconceptions about hospitality that you grew up with?