Cultivating Hospitality. That is not only the title of my blog, but a mantra I want to live by. I want to cultivate relationships, belonging, togetherness. I want my table to be crowded with food, friends, and meaningful conversation.
I have been mourning every day the loss of togetherness in the forms that I am most accustomed to: The loss of friends and family around my dinner table; The loss of conversations at a restaurant while sharing an appetizer of guacamole; The loss of the excitement you get when you clink your glass together with a friend’s and share a “Cheers!” It’s a lot of loss, and a lot of mourning.
Social distancing has been going on for weeks now and I feel like it’s becoming my “new normal” but within this “new normal” is an adaptation of what togetherness and hospitality looks like. The need for hospitality has not gone away, it just looks a little different now. I’m discovering what it looks like for me every day. Maybe now hospitality means taking only what I need at the grocery store, knowing that someone else probably needs that extra bag of flour and I don’t need two. Or maybe it means tipping more generously than I normally would when I support a local restaurant with a take-out order. And what does connection look like now? Maybe it’s a simple video-check in with a friend you haven’t talked to in a while. Some friends of mine recorded a happy birthday video using some unique instruments that they play and sent it to someone on their birthday. What a great idea! Technology has provided us with the ability to stay connected during this time, but we don’t need to rely on technology for connection. Maybe you can send a handwritten note to a friend in the mail? Or maybe you can bake a treat and leave it on your neighbor’s porch. We’ve had friends drop of cards and care packages over the last few weeks and to say that they lifted our spirits would be an understatement (Thank you friends- You know who you are).
Another thing to consider is how you are fostering connection with the people you’re quarantined with. Just because you’re in the same space as someone doesn’t mean that you’re connecting with them. I’ve found it easy to get caught up in the day to day tasks of working from home or the easy distraction of technology, and before I know it most of the day is behind me with no tangible connection or conversations with my husband. Set aside part of the night where the electronics have to be away and you spend time talking or playing a game together. Make a strict rule of no phones at the table and really prioritize dinner time as an opportunity for meaningful conversation and connection. Ask you family to dress up for dinner and set a fancy table for a restaurant experience at home.
I think what we need right now is hope. I find hope in my faith and that has been a pillar of strength for me during this time. I’m also finding hope in seeing how communities are coming together to support health care workers, or public service professionals. I see the hope in how hard the teachers and parents are working to provide the best education possible for the kids during this challenging time. I see hope in a family spending time together with their phones away and they’re laughing together. I see hope in so many places, especially when I choose to look for it.
So as I reflect on the last few weeks and months, I am left with a challenge to myself: How am I cultivating hospitality in this social distant world? How am I seeking and experiencing hope, and how can I share hope with others?