The act of gathering is most simply meeting together, either for a social or festive purpose. I'm certain we can all testify to many gatherings we've attended as well as had in our own homes over the years. But when does the act of gathering turn into hospitality? I believe it starts in the heart, where through the act of generosity, warmth and kindness, our guests, visitors or strangers are welcomed.
The idea of hospitality is very close to my heart. But my true understanding of hospitality has taken me many years to learn. For a long time it meant perfection. My home cleaned from top to bottom (even in places where no one would even see). Everything from the menu, table setting, flowers were planned out and if something didn't go to plan, well then I was in knots. My poor family also suffered under these requirements that left no room for error. It was exhausting. The combination of me being on the verge of a breakdown and my family on edge because of said breakdown didn't leave a lot of room for true welcoming and generosity. The effort that went into making it more of a performance overshadowed any real opportunity for true hospitality.
Over the years, as some of my rough edges have smoothed out, I've learned two primary lessons in particular that relate to hospitality. One would be the idea of showing hospitality to my family first not saving it up for others. Caring more about the people in my home than the perfection. Trying to create a warm and cozy home that is welcoming and where they find grace and love. My hope is to make the idea of hospitality an everyday occurrence. For me this can be done in simple ways. The first of which is a clean home, and by clean I mean picked up. I've loosened up over the years on the over-the-top cleaning sessions that would take an entire day and have eased into a more manageable schedule. I try to do a little everyday, a load of laundry or two, dusting one room, cleaning the bathroom counter and mirror. But for me the thing that keeps my home calm and welcoming is when my heart is in that place of generosity. An attitude of welcoming, thinking about others and pouring into them.
Creating a mood with fresh flowers, candles, and music can also set the tone of your home. When your home is beautifully lit and lovely music is playing it can woo those you love into that safe place where rest and restoration can begin. As women, we are powerful atmosphere changers in our homes, but it's probably worth repeating that even the most breathtaking floral arrangement can't replace the grace and love you can offer to those around you. Caring about the people and not the perfection is where it all begins.-s
P.S. I'm so excited to announce a new facet of A Shared Table in the way of quarterly events. Check out the new page and let me know what you think! :)