And Hospitality

Jul 8, 2023

The Mystery of Hospitality


In the preface of her book, Making Room, Christine Pohl shares:

“A mystery of hospitality is how often one senses God’s presence in the midst of very ordinary activities.”

Room in the Inn-Memphis practices the presence of God in exactly this way each day. Often we think of hospitality as a transactional experience. One person needs something and another person offers that something. The Holy Hospitality that we strive to put into our everyday lives and work with our guests definitely has an element of this way of experiencing hospitality. But when the physical food and shelter are offered by volunteers and staff very often barriers are broken down and relationships develop. Then in a surprisingly beautiful experience the hospitality is felt in both directions.

Almost daily a volunteer will tell me that they receive more than they give when they share time and hospitality with our guests. This is inevitable when hospitality is the goal and is shared in authentic ways. When I have received welcome from others it causes a change in my attitude toward the person who has taken the step to begin that relationship. It is the reason guests will say “I always feel at home at Room in the Inn.” A person who has no physical home finds a space to rest in the hospitality, often from strangers, that is easy and requires only acceptance of the gift.

Hospitality can be avoided because we feel that we are not able to offer the very best to those we invite into our homes, congregations or conversations. Normal daily interactions only require that we are polite, but this way of living pushes us to a deeper level of honesty and respect. The beauty of authentic hospitality is that it only requires faithfulness and generosity of presence. The comfy beds and delicious meals that are offered at RITI are wonderful but most often the time taken to listen to stories over that dinner and the prayers promised before bedtime are what matter most to those we serve. It does not require perfection, it requires faithfulness.

My life has been changed and is impacted daily by the hospitality I receive and in receiving I am inspired to share. That experience brings a sense of holiness and hopefulness in a world that is literally crying out for it every minute of every day. A few more words from Dr. Pohl,

“…in God’s remarkable economy, as we make room for hospitality, more room becomes available to us for life, hope, and grace.”

So join me in these subversive acts of love as we come together to offer holy hospitality!

Rev. Lisa Anderson

Executive Director

Join in the Mystery

Volunteer with Room in the Inn