Cue up banjo music from Deliverance.
How do you prevent the church from becoming like a small town diner? How do you make the stranger among us feel welcomed with open arms?
I spent most of the weekend learning some difficult hospitality lessons from a cooking class with Suvir Saran, a special friend I met through my wife Ellen.
Here are a few practical thoughts on what you can do to move someone from weird new guy to welcome friend (and, for the record, I prefer the latter status).
1) Expect her. When we set up the cooking class, we expected twenty-four students on each of two days. We prepared for their coming by rearranging a cluttered room.
We also prepared by setting up stations and the supplies necessary for a cooking lesson.
We thought about our guests and had a few special things available upon their arrival.
If you want her to be a part of community, expect her and prepare.
2) Let him in. On Saturday, the first day of the class, we had some bugs to work out. One of those was simply entering the building.
I walked out to the main entrance and discovered about two-thirds of the class waiting outside. The door was locked.
I posted an article about some of the ways we lock people out by our words and our actions. If you want him to enter into community, you have to provide an open door.
3) Orient him. We held the cooking class in the Home Ec room at the local high school. People wandered into this daunting building and looked around in confusion.
I smiled and said, “You go through the open doors over there then take the first right. You’ll see a table in the hallway. Go in that direction. Follow the noise and your nose and you’ll find the right room.”
If you want him to be a part of community, orient him to where he is and what’s happening there.
4) Offer her something. When people entered the room, we had water with lemon slices at the ready.
Hospitality offers the guest something to eat or drink or both. When I’m on my game at home, I ask, “Would you like something to drink?”
When I’m really on my game, I say, “I’m going to have a cup of coffee, may I get you something?”
Why do I tell someone what I’m going to drink? Because I know how I am if asked, “Would you like something to drink?”
I feel I’m putting the person out and don’t want her to go to any trouble. If she says, “I’m having coffee,” I jump at the offer. I love coffee.
If you want her to be a part of community, offer her something.
Twenty-four people arrived for the class, most of whom were strangers to Chef Suvir and to those of us who organized the event.
From the welcome to the farewell, the event was designed to introduce people to Indian home cooking and to one another. We may have started as strangers but we ended as friends.
If I happen to travel out your way, I’d appreciate it if you’d expect me, let me in, orient me, and offer me a little something.
If you’re out my way, I’ll do the same.
As Tom Bodett would say, “… we’ll leave the light on for ya.”
I’m curious. What would you add to my hospitality list? Whether positive or negative, what experiences have you had of being the visiting stranger?
Two men. Two eternal destinies.
One common hope.
What people are saying:
”Dark Eyes, Deep Eyes” was a compelling read for me. The vivid descriptions challenged and ignited my imagination.–Ron Fruit, GM, WRCO Radio
Tarver’s storytelling technique as he takes us along with Nick and Wayne’s journeys through opposite eternal pathways is nothing short of genius.–Linda Rondeau, Author of The Other Side of Darkness
… like watching two trains heading towards each other on the same track. You know they are going to collide, you just don’t know when or how it happens. Heaven and hell are going to collide and you won’t want to set the book down until you find out when and how. Masterfully written!–B. C. Jones
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