Monday, December 14, 2009

Hospitality -- the unboundaried heart December 14, 2009

In my experience, the Benedictines have hospitality as part of their spiritual DNA. In the Benedictine tradition, to welcome the stranger is to welcome Christ. It is a key ingredient of their discipline. Joan Chittister laments that hospitality is the missing value of the twentieth century: "hospitality has been domesticated and is now seen more as one of the social graces than as a spiritual act and a holy event." (page 126)

This lament calls to mind the Celtic Rune of hospitality, which I look at from time to time (as it hangs in our kitchen):
We saw a stranger yesterday.
We put food in the eating place,
Drink in the drinking place,
Music in the listening place,
And with the sacred name of the triune God
He blessed us and our house,
Our cattle and our dear ones.
As the lark says in her song:
Often, often, often, goes the Chist
In the stranger's guise.

1 comment:

  1. It seems like we’ve let the government take over almost every aspect of our lives. We’ve come to depend on it for everything, even our obligations to our fellow man. Chittister uses the words “very organized and very antiseptic”. I had already been thinking along those lines but had chosen the words “institutionalized and sanitized”. I’m reminded of the words of Dickens :
    "Are there no prisons?" asked Scrooge.
    "Plenty of prisons," said the gentleman, laying down the pen again.
    "And the Union workhouses?" demanded Scrooge. "Are they still in operation?"
    "They are. Still," returned the gentleman, "I wish I could say they were not."
    "The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?" said Scrooge.
    "Both very busy, sir."
    "Oh! I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course," said Scrooge.

    We’ve given up on being responsible for our fellow man and in doing that, given up a great portion of our humanity.


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