I have a friend who is the hostess of the century. When I visit her home she always has a cup of tea ready, soup warming on the back burner and her house itself just radiates warmth. It is so nourishing to my soul to visit her. No matter what is going on in my life I always leave feeling so relaxed and refreshed. When life gets hard, visiting her is the best reset for me even if we don’t even speak of what I am going through. It is simply the love and kindness of her home that ministers so deep to me.
There is something about the ministry of hosting that almost feels old fashioned. We are taught to believe that long gone are the days of traditional homemaking. Throw blankets are decorative only and most people only keep a set of 6 for the table so for the rare occasions that company comes over they have to buy consumable paper products. I heard recently that the decline of social gatherings began with the invention of the television. When we brought entertainment into our homes that was abundant, readily available and solitary there was no need for the neighbors to visit.
So what are the real tangible benefits of opening our homes and serving others? Well firstly I must admit I searched two different online search engines for scientific evidence of the benefits of hosting. None of the results yielded what I was looking for. Instead they were links to persuasive arguments on hosting websites, forums or virtual meetings. Imagine my surprise! I even tried searching key words like “opening up your home” and “having company for dinner.” Evidently no one is interested in this topic online!
The following are simply the benefits of hosting from the perspective of this simple farmer’s wife who loves to socially engage.
1.An Excuse to Clean- this is selfish I know but I am motivated by necessity. When I am planning a gathering I examine my home more closely and prioritize those clutter spots I have been putting off reorganizing. I take an hour or two the day before I host a gathering to put everything away and dust these areas of neglect and it makes everything feel fresh again!
2.Nourishment- As farmers, food is obviously a big part of our ministry. Preparing something tasty that warms the bellies of those who visit brings me so much joy. I love sharing the abundance of our garden and even sending folks home with new recipes and some raw ingredients to try it for themselves at home.
3.Serving others- When we open up our homes we give ourselves a greater purpose and meaning to meet their needs first. We are easily able to take our eyes off of ourselves and our problems to focus on them. This creates a cycle of serving as the ones we serve are most likely to pay it forward.
I love looking at old black and white photos of porch dwellers. Firstly, the porch is most often bigger than the old house it rests on. Usually in the picture there’s an elder or two in a cane rocker and the rest of the porch is so full of people that some are sitting on the railings, the stairs or anywhere there’s a flat surface to rest. Usually there is a fiddle in someone’s hand and a big pitcher of what I presume to be sweet tea in the corner. Mostly what I notice is how at peace the matriarch looks. She is so content to have a house full that nothing else in that moment matters. Reflecting on all of this it has me wondering, do you enjoy hosting? If not, what is it that keeps you from it?