The next few blog posts are a translation of an article which was originally written by myself in Finnish for a publication of Hiljaisuuden Ystävät (Friends of Silence) in February 2017. It feels appropriate to speak about this topic on the day of returning home from the Birmingham Taizé event where we were hosted by a lovely family in a parish.
HOSPITALITY AS AN AIM IN COMMUNITY
In the midst of cautionary tales about making friends with people on the internet, we have shown to our children that you can allow strangers close to you. Over the years we have accommodated numerous people through networks called Hospitality Club and Couch Surfing, and had fascinating conversations at the breakfast table. We have also benefited from people’s hospitality through these links in different countries around Europe. In these systems people offer hospitality without compensation or reciprocity; however, there is a hope of one day being at the receiving end while travelling. The people within these networks give the impression of living according to the golden rule: in showing hospitality I treat others as I wish myself to be treated.
I notice that when an atmosphere of love and peace is cherished in the home, there is plenty to go around and to be shared. Similarly, when my second child was born, I learned that there was enough love to show both children: love doubled instead of being halved. That’s what God’s love is like which surrounds us. When God pours his love on us, there is no space for favouritism, comparison or debt of gratitude. At this feast there is room for everyone, and I don’t need to worry whether I get the best seat at the table.
Taizé’s concept of the pilgrimage of trust is something I try to live out. That includes being hospitable to everyone and accepting differences. The most important things are letting other people close and opening your home, giving your time and true encounter. You can always bring out more chairs to add to the table and offer at least a glass of water or a cup of tea.