It had been the end of a difficult stretch. Not of days or weeks – but months. Sick parents and strained bank accounts left my husband, Derek, and me in a perpetual state of exhaustion. Throw in some major life stressors, and the good times weren’t exactly rolling at our house. We needed to be with each other, away from our kids, with people who loved and cared for us. We needed a vacation.
And that’s when Krista’s voice sounded over the phone line. “Come to our house. My sister will take care of our kids for the weekend. We can be together.” Just what we needed. A respite from life. A place to be heard. A place for us to be together away from our own children, to remember who we were as husband and wife rather than our default of mom and dad.
Krista did all of the things a good hostess does to make her out of town guests feel welcome. She prepared a room for us at her house, her own bedroom, in fact. She cooked us special food and set the table so we could sit around it and talk for hours, no kids needing to be put to bed. She asked questions, and she leaned in and listened to our every word. She wiped tears, gave hugs and laughed at my inappropriate jokes. Yes, she had prepared her house for us, but more so she had prepared her heart to be present.
Saturday afternoon turned into separation of the genders. While husbands went mountain biking, Krista took me to the mall, and did what any good girlfriend would do – she looked into my tired eyes and said, “You need some under-eye concealer.” Thankful someone was taking care of me, I followed her to the makeup counter and perched myself on the high-backed stool staring at the palette of beiges available to me. Though the weekend was starting to thaw me a bit, I still felt encased in ice. Frozen to huge decisions like which shade of beige might be my natural match.
And then as I sat there I witnessed true hospitality. The grey-haired woman working the counter was doing her best to bob and weave the stress-induced, one-word, curt dagger responses I was throwing her way.
It wasn’t her fault I was overwhelmed with my life, but I treated her as if it was.
Fortunately, for all of our sakes, standing next to me was my friend who carries a spirit of welcome with her wherever she goes. Perched on my stool, I watched as Krista served up some soul refreshment to a woman with a make-up brush in her hand. Immediately she learned the woman’s name. By the end of my twenty-minute makeover she’d also learned where her new friend lived, the other part-time job she had, and her schedule at the makeup counter so Krista could stop by and say “Hey, girl!” the next time she was at the mall. Krista found an opportunity to make someone else feel seen and heard. She doesn’t let those moments slip by.
Because my friend is a mobile hostess. She takes hospitality on the road. Everyone is a guest in her presence because she looks people in the eye, sees the dark circles, and learns the story behind them. She creates a place for others to feel welcome right where they are. Just as they are.
Hospitality is a welcome. A come in and feel comfortable and relax a bit. This is less about place and more about presence. Dining room table or makeup counter, no matter. We can see and listen right where we are. Just as we are.