Sunday, July 10, 2011
Sunday Afternoon Tea
I am at the moment coughing and sneezing and feeling generally miserable. My husband kindly gave me his cold. How thankful I am that he did not give it to me last weekend with the busy-ness of preparing for guests in our home. ;)
In a way, opening our home again to the art of hospitality coincides with my year of all things create! To me hospitality is the sharing of time and talent and food and shelter and... life. I am the kind of person who is quite happy these days curled up alone with a good book so it is good to be reminded that there are real friends (ours and Christopher's) for whom showing hospitality will bring joy.
I love the story Emilie Barnes tells of her mother's gift of hospitality. While living in the back of their small dress shop, her mother would put the tea kettle on and place her beloved teapot and teacups out to offer a customer hospitality.
She went through the same ritual when she lived in a retirement home, opening the door of her one room when friends could stop by for tea and a visit. True hospitality is from the heart as one looks past the surroundings... however limited or grand.
Later, Emilie would take those same skills and use them for a much larger audience in her home and through her books. Lessons learned in small spaces and in very little ways are just as important as when taught in perfect circumstances... if they ever do exist.
One should never apologize for a small house, doing so would make us ungrateful for what God has provided us with. Instead we fill it with creativity, color, beauty, peace, music, and His Presence. Flowers growing outside would be lovely and the aroma of something baking in the oven as guests arrived would be like a warm embrace to a weary soul.
It is quite sad to me when a person thinks their house is too small or they don't have "enough" to have friends over. For the most part... I have never found a place too small and even a cold drink of water on a hot day is welcoming or a cup of hot tea in winter.
Our hospitality may be more one-on-one or having just a few friends over for coffee or tea or a meal rather than large parties but our attitude of thankfulness for what we do have (instead of becoming bitter at what we do not) will be welcomed in the world we live in today.
To be honest, one of my more uncomfortable hospitality moments came when a Bible study I was attending had a potluck at the beautiful home of one of the members. It was obvious hundreds of thousands of dollars had been spent on making the home unique but I had a difficult time feeling comfortable. I don't think the hostess felt at home in her own house and this transferred to her guests. Sometimes more is just... more.
I have also been shown hospitality in other "fancy" homes which reflected a different personality from the homeowner. One soon does not see the glitz and glitter but there is the feeling of friendship, laughter, and fellowship as we were made to feel welcome. In those homes, it was obvious the host and hostess were comfortable in their own surroundings and made their guests feel welcome. Their intention was never "look at our money" (for sometimes God blesses with "more"... but the Glory goes to Him and not ourselves).
There is an enjoyment in the preparation for hospitality when we see it as a form of giving and sharing instead of entertaining. I don't want to have to entertain anyone. The thought of it makes me need a nap. (Although I do understand the term entertaining is used in the same way as hospitality.) However, I do enjoy looking through my recipe cards and cookbooks to think of what good I can make... given time and budgets.
Then deciding which dishes to use and what tablescapes our imagination can think of given what is available in our home and garden. Through the years I have collected dishes and such through my own purchases, inheritances, and thrifting. I love to check clearance aisles after holidays for items to be used the next year (and sometimes all year long).
For Christopher's 4th of July gathering we used paper and plastic and the decorations mostly came from my family room. The red, white, and blue plant was only moved from the porch to the deck. More creativity than cash... but still one knew as they walked to the deck that they were at a party.
I am aware that a post about hospitality is rather out of the ordinary for a Sunday Afternoon Tea but then again... the Bible is full of stories about hospitality given and even the reminder that we may have "entertained angels unaware". That is an exciting thought. :)
Note: Do forgive any typos and grammar errors. I tried to fix what was obvious but I must return to my sofa with a cup of hot throat coat tea, my pillow, and a throw... and a reminder that it is just the common cold.