This morning when I woke up, a thought popped into my head — Radical Hospitality. I consider many of my thoughts to be spiritual guidance because that is what I pray for. I asked the universe and God of my understanding to guide my thoughts, words and actions. So when Radical Hospitality as a clear, distinct phrase echoed in my mind, I figured it was divinely inspired. Perhaps I need to start writing my second book that chronicles Tao & my adventures reopening Still Waters. Radical Hospitality. I thought maybe that's the title. But first, I thought I'd look it up and see what else exists. Much to my delight, Radical Hospitality is a thing. I suppose many people know that already. But I didn't and it was exciting to me. Something new to learn.
This thought wave started over the weekend when my friend Cathleen came over to visit and see our renovation progress at Still Waters. Cathleen brought a pineapple. It was a sweet and thoughtful gesture. After our visit, I remembered that I thought of pineapple a few days prior when I bought a frozen bag of it at the grocery store. Later that afternoon, I went into the basement to switch over the laundry and saw a shelf on Tao's work table with a small pineapple finial for a hook. Pineapples everywhere. Okay, clearly this is a sign. Yes, Universe, I'm paying attention. When I googled "meaning of pineapple" there were all sorts of articles on pineapples as symbols of hospitality, the origination of pineapple hospitality in the south and even a snarky result of why are you googling what pineapple is, you idiot (f-bombs intentionally omitted). I continued my search because what I really wanted to find was the spiritual meaning of pineapple. This article gave me some insights and satisfied my inquiry.
This morning, considering my waking thoughts, I found this inspiring sermon on Radical Hospitality by Rev. Dr. Marilyn Sewell, minister emerita of the First Unitarian Church in Portland, Oregon. The whole sermon in its entirety is a beautiful read. Even as a non-member of their church reading this sermon long after its delivery, it made me feel included. Even though I'm on the other side of the country, I felt welcome. This line is what struck me the most: "I’m not talking about being politically correct, or legalistic—I’m talking about hospitality as [a] spiritual practice. I’m not talking about just opening the doors—I’m talking about opening the heart."
Yes! Hosting guests and groups at Still Waters is about opening the heart. Softening the edges. Opening the mind. Being gentle with ourselves and others. Opening the heart brings vulnerability, and many of us don't want to feel vulnerable. That's an opportunity for discomfort and even pain. But if I can be with it, let it in, there is an opportunity for growth.
I hope to be ever reminded of this approach and the idea of hospitality as a spiritual practice. Let the practice begin again!