Serve: Radical Hospitality

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning is a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
[S]he may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.


The idea of “radical hospitality” is one that many of us has wrestled with.  We understand what it means to be hospitable: to be offered a hand-shake, a cup of tea, a warm welcome.  But what about this notion of “radical hospitality”?

One way to think about radicalizing our sense of hospitality is to offer a welcome embrace not only to others, but to ourselves as well.  For most of us, there are some unwelcome guests lurking in the corners of our minds and memories.  As in Rumi’s poem, we can tend to avoid those unwanted guests…but it’s radical to actually greet them, grateful for all that has and does form us into beloved people of God.

Interestingly, when we radically embrace our own authentic selves, we may find it easier to embrace others, too.  Our welcome then extends not only to the superficial outer presentation of people, but to their depths of personhood.  We recognize that each person has a unique place in the household of God, and in our communities of faith.

Here at St. Thomas (as in many churches) we offer a time of hospitality following Sunday morning services.  This is a time to meet and greet faces both familiar and unfamiliar, and to share the gift of service with other as well.

Today’s Opportunity to Serve:

Host (or co-host) Coffee Hour.  As an act of radical hospitality, consider inviting someone to co-host a coffee hour with you.  This act of radical hospitality will mean that you reach out to someone (perhaps someone you don’t know well yet) and have the opportunity to talk and serve side by side as you provide hospitality to the larger community.  To sign up for a coffee hour at St. Thomas during April (several weeks remain!), simply visit:

If you’re following from afar, consider ways to spread radical hospitality in your church, school, or community by building relationships through service.  Some of my most joyful serving has been with people I didn’t know well before we started, but came to know as love as we worked together to support our community.


Photo Credit: Patience Salgado

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