Welcoming angels unaware

Will you open your home and heart?

Hospitality is one of those sometimes messy Christian practices. When we welcome people into our lives, the smells from bodily functions might hang around in the air. Muddy footprints might mar our floors. We might drop our masks, revealing times of irritation or stress.

Original watercolor by Leo Boucher.

Original watercolor by Leo Boucher.

But we’re saying come, we welcome you. We want to provide you a haven of rest; a place to close the room to your door when you need to; a space to converse and share.

My husband and I are not perfect hosts by any means, but throughout our ten years in our vicarage, we’ve tried to be open and say yes when asked. It’s only in the last year or so that we have not had either a family member or an au pair living with us; that was a particular season of sharing and molding and learning. This summer seems a unique time of welcoming traveling Americans – every weekend, a new set, each with their own gifts and riches.

A few practical tips:

  • Create a guide to your house. I got this idea from a throwaway line in Packing Light, a wonderful memoir about a woman who travels around the 50 states. In our guide we tell our guests about things like the wonky shower curtain (yes, it will fall on you if you’re not careful) and give them the wifi code. This also can be a repository of tourist information (especially if you live in a world-class city like London).
  • Have in mind a few go-to meals. Our crock pot (slow cooker) has transformed our cooking, helping us to make easy and healthy meals. Cooking a whole chicken, for example, is now painless.
  • Treasure your guest book. Our only requirement when people come to stay with us is that they sign our guest book. We love looking back over the entries, which evoke memories of the gourmet meal cooked for us by one or the Pimms we shared with another.
  • Remember that they’ve come to see you (or your city), and that your house doesn’t have to be perfect. Having been raised in a very tidy home, I find this a struggle. But the visitors this summer will see by our various clutter-spots my “progress” in being able to welcome people even when there is some mess.

What tips would you add?

Washing machines at the ready, here we go!

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