I was asked to write the opening note for this issue of ResoLUTE – devoted to food and Lute foodies – probably because Patty and I are known for our love of food. But thinking about this issue reminded me of another important aspect of breaking bread together – the notion of hospitality. It is one of the greatest qualities of a human being to possess a sense of hospitality.
In ancient societies, hospitality was considered a great virtue, and refusal to be hospitable to others was a great sin. Travelers from distant lands were offered a warm reception with shelter and food for the night, often without the host knowing the stranger’s history or homeland.
Increasingly in today’s society, hospitality has come to be confined only to our known circles, our close friends, associates and near relatives. In these rancorous, sometimes suspicious times – and in a political climate in which people from opposite sides are not encouraged to work together or even agree on anything at all – the spirit of selfless service to strangers has almost become a lost art.
Quite simply, hospitality is making people feel as if they’re not strangers, as if they belong. As we work together to create a campus community that is truly welcoming and hospitable to all, we must strive to create an environment that nurtures authentic conversation, and one that accesses a diversity of thought and experience. We must create spaces that allow us to explore and understand without the stress of deadlines and the harried pace of our busy lives; spaces that give us the time and ability to seek understanding of different viewpoints. Each of us sees something different, and each of these perspectives has value.
True hospitality chooses a menu that allows face-to-face time with guests. It shows interest in the thoughts, feelings and pursuits of the guests. It asks questions and listens intently to answers. It shares generously with those who have less, and honors the environment and human hands that created it. Hospitality involves setting a table that makes everyone feel welcome and comfortable.