I’ve always loved having people over to my house. Some of my favorite early memories are from when my mom hosted holiday parties. I LOVED when the house was full of special food and lots of people. I remember following her around as she set out dishes of meatballs and tiny cheesecakes, hoping folks would get there soon so I could make a plate. (I’ve also always loved to eat.) The house always felt warm and inviting and full of energy.
Through junior high, high school, college, and grad school the space where I lived ended up being the place where folks congregated and that’s something I continue to work to make space for in our home and life here in Charlottesville.
I’m an introvert, which is part of why I think I like hosting at my home. I’m somewhere I am comfortable and at ease. I love the moments of calm right before my guests arrive.
I wrote last week about making space to invite others in. This past weekend we finally got all of our Christmas decorations put away, and I rearranged the living room. I’ve been lighting candles, and lamps, and playing soft, wordless music as I read and write. I am enjoying this space and still feeling so, so grateful for it. I’m excited to keep inviting people in to enjoy it as well.
In this season, as we have gotten settled into a new state (both physically in Virginia, but also as newlyweds…are you still a newlywed after almost 2 years?) I’ve found that I am really grateful when people invite me into their space. Something as simple as a last-minute text or call from friends for a game night or some pie has meant the world to me.
Hospitality isn’t just about offering someone space in our homes, though. I’ve been thinking about what it means to offer space to people in all sorts of situations; about why it means so much when someone reaches out and invites me in. As I thought about this one of my role-models came to mind.
Every year, close to graduation time, my church in Waco has a special service called Mr. Rogers’ Sunday. In place of a sermon, the congregation watches a twenty-minute video on the life and work of Fred Rogers, host of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. The first year I was present I sobbed. I sobbed every year I was present after that. Recently I watched the new-ish movie about Mr. Rogers (Won’t You Be My Neighbor?) on a plane coming back from Texas. I cried on the plane just like I cried in the dark sanctuary of University Baptist Church. If you haven’t seen the movie, you should.
I watched Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood growing up and my favorite part was always when he visited the factories to see how things are made. Now, my favorite part (and the part that makes me cry happy tears) is watching Fred Rogers look into the eyes of children in his studio space, and through the television screen, to tell them that he likes them just the way they are. He likes me just the way I am, too.
The reason my community in Waco watches this every year near graduation is because it is commissioning Sunday. UBC believes that everyone who follows Christ is called to live out that call in the way that is unique to them. Fred Rogers was heading to seminary when he saw a television program for the first time and thought something to the effect of, “We can do better. I can do better.” When he received his degree, he was commissioned to minister through the means of public television. And he did.
I believe Fred Rogers offered (and still offers through the many episodes he created over the years) a space of holy hospitality. Fred Rogers helped teach me that hospitality doesn’t just happen when we invite someone into our home. It can happen anytime we look at another person and affirm that we like them just the way they are, that they are valuable to us, that they are worth hearing and seeing.
I have felt seen and heard in countless ways over my life, and I have been moved by stories of others being seen and heard as well. My hope for this series is that it will encourage us toward creative hospitality; that we would all take the time to look for opportunities to offer space to our neighbors and receive it for ourselves.