Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. – Hebrews 13:2.
Verily, it is enjoined upon you to offer a feast, once in every month, though only water be served; for God hath purposed to bind hearts together, albeit through both earthly and heavenly means. – Baha’u’llah, The Most Holy Book, p. 40.
Hospitality gives us an opportunity to help people feel welcome in our homes. It spreads happiness when the host smiles, offers refreshments, and helps people feel comfortable. It makes neighbors feel neighborly. It creates friendships. It brings people together in unity.
But hospitality has an effect on the host as well. I notice my husband and I feel uplifted as we prepare our home to be clean and orderly. Towels and sheets are fresh. Food is abundant. The porch is swept. We feel closely connected to each other as we invite others into our space for a while. We also appreciate our own home better!
The people who come into our home vary from those we have never met to long-time friends and relatives. We all share stories of our lives that help us to build understanding and friendship. With new people, we look for points of connection. With people we already know, we fill in the gaps with news of what has happened since we were last together. Our world expands as we hear new viewpoints and learn about the choices others have made. We share ideas, feelings, thoughts, and prayers.
Make your home a haven of rest and peace. Be ye hospitable and let the doors of your home be open to the faces of friends and strangers. Welcome everyone with a smiling face… – Abdu’l-Baha, Star of the West, Volume 6, p. 20.
Our hope is always that people leave better than when they arrive through the experiences they share with us. We want them to learn something new, heal from a past experience, have a new adventure, or lighten up with laughter. We notice that our lives are better from their visits too.
We also notice that the experience of being in our home becomes more enjoyable when we and our guests feel free to engage in service. As we prepare food together, set and clear the table, do the dishes, and more, we take part and become participants in a mutual experience. We try to make sure our guests are not passive recipients of us serving them. They benefit by being part of enhancing the overall quality of time we spend together. It’s also easier for us to relax when we are not trying to do everything, and conversation flows as we work and serve each other together.
My husband and I can also tell that it brings peace and happiness to our guests when they see positive interactions between us. As we demonstrate loving communication with each other, it inspires others to have loving relationships.
…like unto two sweet-singing birds, [you and your spouse] must be perched on the highest branches of the tree of life, filling the air with songs of love and happiness. – Ibid.
Sometimes it feels like it will be difficult to have guests, and we wonder if we can make time to offer them our hospitality. We think, “But we are so busy with work and other activities.” It can sometimes seem more like it will be a burden than a joy.
However, consistently, when we set aside these concerns and offer hospitality, we are happy we made that choice. Relationships and friendships with others are a vital part of living a full life, and a vital part of marriage. We also look upon our home as a gift from God, and opening it to others shares that gift.