A couple of weeks ago, a friend from church who knows a little bit about what is going on inside our family, texted me on a Sunday and said, “I’m bringing your family dinner tomorrow. Is 4:00 okay?”
At 4:15 I pulled into my driveway, running late due to unexpected traffic, and found her about to drive away from our house. I jumped out of my car, and she stopped and got out of her car. She hugged me. She told me dinner was waiting in our kitchen, and she had brought not one, but two meals.
Then she stood and talked to me while I filled her in and cried a little bit. She hugged me, empathized, encouraged, and told me I was doing a good job in the middle of what was undoubtedly a lot to handle by anyone’s standards. Then she left.
I went inside, and found a bounty of provision waiting on my kitchen counter. Vegetable Beef Soup, Sourdough Bread, Grapes, Apple Pie. Two smoked chickens, a huge pan of mac and cheese, and a salad with homemade parmesan dressing. I started weeping. Even writing about this makes me well up.
Hospitality is no joke, especially when we enter into the messy reality of those we love and show up with provisions, both physical and emotional. The food nourished our family for the better part of a week. But the gestures of homemade meals piled on my counter, delivered without asking permission, brought into my kitchen even when I wasn’t home, continue to nourish my heart and remind me I am not alone.
Two weeks later, that same friend texted on a Sunday afternoon. “I made spaghetti sauce today. I’m dropping some by at 3:30.” A vat of homemade sauce, two pounds of dried pasta, two bags of salad, a baguette, and a chocolate pie arrived at my back door at 3:30 with a hug and a quick word of encouragement.
I write a lot about hospitality. I model it. I teach it. I speak it. I read about it. And I feel like I know and understand the truth and beauty of hospitality. But what I am learning afresh is that to be in need, on the receiving end of such extravagant care, is to see the reality of what hospitality can accomplish from a more powerful, poignant angle.
This season of being knocked over, sunk deep in the mire of crisis, in desperate need on a daily basis, it’s not the kind of thing I would sign up for. It’s hard. I want it to end. And yet, it is right here where I am seeing the beauty that comes when someone enters in, creates space, cooks food, shows up, and loves me tangibly with soup, bread, grapes, and pie. It’s nothing less than extraordinary.
I am taking a lot of notes as I notice new places where hospitality is more than parties and events. Hospitality is the life-blood of gritty, relational, tangible love. And more and more I am convinced that it is best when it flows naturally from rhythms that are already in place. My heart is grateful for the lessons I am learning in the fire of trials, for the new role hospitality is playing as I forge ahead, and for dinners left on my doorstep that feed my family.
Have a lovely weekend!