Audacious Hospitality

I went to a wedding last night-WAIT! Don’t go, I promise this isn’t another mournful post about my singleness!!!

As I was saying: I went to a beautiful wedding last night, joining two lovely, social conscious souls in a joyful but very aware Jewish ceremony. I’ve always found Jewish wedding ceremonies to be particularly moving, maybe because it’s not my tradition, or maybe because the Jewish weddings I’ve been to have by and large been for particularly moving, soulful, globally-minded people who see their union as one that brings us that much closer to a united world. Either way, it was gorgeous.

At one point the Rabbi was discussing the chuppah, and how it symbolized home, and specifically Abraham and Sarah’s tent, open on all sides, to provide access for travelers and others to join them. The Rabbi referred to this as “audacious hospitality” and it struck me. I rolled those words around in my head and in my heart all night, marinating on them and what they meant for me. What does it mean to be in a time of crisis, and still meet it with loving kindness towards others? Not just your friends and family, but specifically and especially towards the outsiders, the others.

Arabs also have a deep tradition of hospitality. You want to give a couple of Palestinians anxiety? Ask them if there’s enough food for a party. You’ll have food for literal days. You can’t come empty handed to a person’s home, you can’t not offer people food when their in yours, and any discomfort felt by a guest must be immediately attended to or it will bother you like a mosquito the entire night. Dinners out are a one-ups-manship of who pays-there have been legitimate fights in my family over who gets the dinner bill. That might seem like it’s defeating the point of generosity, but not allowing someone to take care of you is deeply shaming. It suggests that they can’t or don’t want to. And that is simply untrue.

In the last few days, my heart has been sore, and closed. I have sought out comfort in every way- from what I’ve been wearing (fleece-lined hipster penguin slip-ons? Check. Fur vest? Check.) to eating (all of the cheese, please) to hanging out with (no new people. Bunker friends only). But eventually I have to shake it off, and figure out a way to be in this new (or newly revealed?) reality. The idea of audacious hospitality got me thinking.

What if I continued to open my heart to not only my friends, but to these people that I don’t understand, to the new administration? As hard as it seems, what if I responded to what I perceive to be hate, with generosity? What if I counteracted their fear and mistrust with radical faith? What if, as St. Francis asked us to, a made myself into an instrument of God’s own peace?

“Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love…”.

In other words, instead of going low, go high. It’s not a matter of giving up the fight, or of denying the wrongness where there is wrongness, but about raising my own vibration in the hopes it will elevate others. Come to the fight from a place of audacious hospitality, both towards the persecuted and the persecutors, in the belief that love will actually trump hate.

Let’s see how it goes.



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