The house guest


welcome_to_our_home_signWendy rapped on our bedroom door. It was about 6 a.m., maybe earlier.

But when Toni turned off her alarm, she fell back to sleep. Now awake, she was dressed in no time and ready to take Wendy to the airport for her flight home to Minneapolis. I just went back to sleep.

Wendy is the younger sister of Cindy, Toni’s best friend from college. She was in the area for a gathering of girl scouts. For us, it was such a treat to have her with us a couple of days.

Nobody does hospitality better than Toni. My job is to visit and enjoy the special dinners. Maybe best of all, I get to learn more about people I might not know well. The journalist in me just goes into overdrive with company. It’s always been a way to further my post-graduate studies.

I’m sure the obligation of hospitality goes back before Bible days. One scripture reminds us that by being a welcoming host, we might well be entertaining angels unawares. The point of that passage in Hebrews I believe is that you just don’t know who you’re going to be sharing a meal with.

I sure recall being on the receiving end of hospitality during my college days. I often traveled with the college choir. Whether it was in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula or in Delta, Ohio, church members would put up a couple of choir members and then serve us a huge breakfast.

In recent years, we’ve even entertained Buddhist nuns from Nepal in our city. My wife Toni and I also have opened our home to traveling concert singers. Recently, we welcomed an old friend, Doug, and his Korean wife, Suk Ja. They had returned recently from Korea to take up residence in the states.

Doug and I had taught at our alma mater high school, before he joined the Peace Corps and I landed a job writing editorials at the morning paper.

We helped them shop for a house in our city. No luck here. In the meantime, we enjoyed such a great visit. Likely, they’ll end up in California.

I recall from my college days that our hosts treated us as special guests. Often, they’d coax us to sing a few numbers that we had presented during our concert earlier that day.

We always tried to accommodate our hosts, of course.

When I was a theological student, I sometimes served as an interim minister. I stayed with very interesting families. I’m sure I learned more from them than they learned from this green would-be minister.

I’ll never forget staying with a family in North Liberty, Indiana. I’d hop the train from Lansing to South Bend. My host would be at the station, waiting for me.

This church elder was also the town’s funeral director. His home was attached to the mortuary. As I was falling asleep at night, I always thought the odor I faintly detected came from chemicals my host used for embalming.

I never asked.

I don’t recall ever having a bad experience as a guest in some stranger’s home. Nor do I remember a bad experience when we entertained guests in our home. Either way, I’ve always found hospitality one of those happy interludes in life.

I recommend the habit.

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