Last night we hosted a gathering of other families from school. We grilled out and hung out in the yard while children played. We posted an invitation on the school's parent forum Facebook page. We didn't know how many people would show up. It was only about 7 families. Which wasn't overwhelming and was a nice size for getting to talk.
Sometimes the thought of having a group of people over can be overwhelming. I wish we were at a point where we financially could afford to offer everyone's meat and drinks and just have them show up, but we're not. And that didn't stop us.
We said we'd have a grill ready along with paper plates, eating utensils, and water. People were asked to bring their own protein to grill, a dish to share, extra beverages they may like, and a lawn chair (we had about a half dozen chairs outside, a picnic table, and a picnic blanket). Really we just provided space and time.
Hospitality doesn't have to be audacious or lavish--at least, I don't think it does. Hospitality can be simple. It should, either way, be focused on the guest.
St. Benedict wrote, "Let all guests who arrive be received like Christ" (RB 53).
That's a high calling--not an easy thing to do. I honestly don't often think about that most of the time. I know I didn't last night. I spent my time turning the hot dogs, chicken, and one piece of steak. I was getting food on the table and cups by the water cooler. I grabbed the extra lawn chairs out of the back of our car. At some point I sat and ate and got to talk with people. Most of the time I felt more like Martha than Mary.
But I think--I hope--that even creating space and time for people to come together is a step toward receiving the other as Christ. And let me be clear--it was not a religious gathering in anyway. We knew a few families as having church connections, and we may have talked a little about church, but it was just a gathering of families connected by school. Many knew each other--at least in passing, but some hadn't met before. And that was good. People came together. Relationships were built. These are good things, I believe.