The Discipline & Art of Hospitality


This is another post from an older blog I kept as Summer and I prepared to adopt our daughter, Sophie. (Originally published April 27, 2006)

This is another somewhat heady blog. Sorry, you just have to understand that I am a head then heart kind of guy. Still, once my head gets it my heart knows no bounds. Besides, Summer does a good job giving the where we are right now reports. As Summer and I journey closer to adopting our first child the latest news out of Vietnam is that there are far more boys in need of a home than girls. In myself I notice a bias towards little girls. For example, I find that in working with children and youth that the girls are always able to get me to do far more than the boys. Heck, a few months ago a gaggle of our church’s little girls even got me to let them paint my nails. With my welcoming the possibility of having a son, I notice how I must be more intentional in my practicing the discipline and art of hospitality. Hospitality is not something that comes natural for humans. It is difficult for us, when all is said and done, to intentionally put the “other” in the primary place of the “I.” In other words it is a discipline to make space, to make room, to be host, even a gracious one, to someone who at first thought is not one’s preference. It is even more of a discipline to move from the role of host to that of parent. Yet, my desire to be a parent, at the end of the day, far exceeds my so-called preferences. Then I notice how much hospitality is an art. It is something that is practiced regularly and one grows more adept at it. One even grows to the point that the art becomes nature. Right now, I see in myself that my thinking and my feelings are growing as they make space for, to welcome, to embrace, to love a child for who he or she is… I am making ready for the child that will come. Hospitality is a word that is so often reduced to meaning little more than “making one feel at home.” What a misunderstanding of the word, what a reduction of its true meaning, hospitality is the discipline and art of not just making others feel at home, but making them a home with you. So, here is to practicing moving towards perfecting moving towards creating a home for the child that regardless of who he or she is will still be my child. The painting in this posting is Rembrandt’s depiction of the meeting of the Prodigal Son and his father upon his return. A parable about the discipline and art of hospitality, of making welcome, of making home…