Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Heart of Thanksgiving... not the art.

I am writing this post because my daughter asked me to.  She and I are attending a Bible study on Tuesday mornings and we have been using this as an awesome excuse to spend Tuesday together.  Over lunch today we got in an intense conversation about something that came up via the facilitator of the group.  With Thanksgiving this week she was talking about the people coming to her house for the holiday.  Originally, she was just hosting her usual family but is now hosting her brother and his family and all that en-tales.  I do not use the term hosting lightly.  Here is the problem.  There were several references to how it was going to be different for 'their guests' as they have many rules in their home that all invited guests would need to adhere to.  The one that she chose to use as an example (more than once) was that in their home, there would be no alcohol, even though she knew that would be a problem for many of the guests... it is not allowed in their home.  Don't get me wrong, I understand that when "in Rome" but allow me to tell you what my problem with this was... really.

Just minutes before, she had told us a story about the same family members.  In her story she explained that she has never looked to spend holidays with them as they are so "materialistic" and their home is not family friendly.  Just so that you understand, she was clear that nearly everything in the home is white.  The furnishings are literally priceless.  They are art collectors and it is just not well... what one would call 'kid friendly'.  She then told how it came to be that they needed (not wanted) to come to their home for Thanksgiving.  Somehow there was an issue with a fuel delivery and their house was pumped throughout with soot.  For "normal" people that would suck but clearly for them... bad, bad, bad.  So, here they are at the mercy of someone who should be merciful. Maybe it is because I am a clean freak with OCD, but I get why it would be not only devastating to be unable to host your guests but even harder to call and ask for someone else to host them, especially knowing that they will not be treated or considered in the way that you had planned to.  When she told the story she was chuckling.  I get it.  I understand. I would be a liar if I didn't say that had I been in the same place I would not have been tempted to chuckled a bit myself.  It is still a sad irony.

The reason that Raven wanted me to write this is because after we talked it through, she felt that this was something people needed to hear.  I am a Christian.  I believe that God looks at the heart more than the behavior.  I think that there is a huge difference between hosting and hospitality.  Hospitality has a heart.  I believe that God is more pleased with someone who pours a glass of wine in a home where it is frowned upon (if you read the same Bible as me it clearly isn't sinful) because it is what the guest is wanting, then someone who opens their home with a smirk because (due to an unexpected hardship) someone is in need of help.  Thanksgiving is the ultimate opportunity for others to see what you value.  It is an intimate look into each others lives and traditions.  When you share that meal I think it is important to share it all... but if the rules and traditions are more important to you than the people they will not feel you shared anything. God looks at the heart.  I believe that so much could have been achieved by showing the heart of hospitality and not the art of hospitality.

Hospitality is offering what you have to someone else with joy and without expectation.  The art of entertaining is to further your own reputation and achieve accolades.  Hospitality can even leave you feeling like you gave something... because you did.  The art of entertaining leaves you feeling better about yourself... well at least until you read something like this.

1 comment:

Olson Family said...

Long smile. I only would have listened to you and Raven and when you glanced my way, I would have raised my glass to your passion and conviction, "Here, here!"

Go on. I'm listening.