Hospitality while traveling isn’t much I have thought about, but after a road trip of two weeks, I look back with particular fondness on the times we were with people who welcomed us into their homes so simply and kindly. Restaurants and hotels are good at times, but definitely missing the personal elements of friendship and exchanges of cultures and ideas possible with face to face, sitdown visits.
A week or so ago we had the rare chance to walk along the shores of Lake Michigan near dusk. A mild June evening in Chicago. My husband and I walked with friends from a decades-old intentional community there. Jeanne and Allen, 79 and 75 respectively, had been our hosts for supper. Before we walked over to their house from the place where we were staying, they had let us know we would need to conclude by 7:30…perhaps they went to bed early, I mused. At any rate, I didn’t want to be out late. Messes up my sleep to break with routines.
But we had such a good visit and it was getting on toward 8 when Jeanne got up, smiled, and said, “Let’s go for a walk at Northwestern. Come on before it gets dark!”
I don’t know if other plans had fallen through or they just had mercy on us car-cramped and long journeying people. I was a little bit skeptical about walking in the notorious Chicago wind. I put on a long sleeved shirt and a sweater to ward off the expected chilly air.
But the wind was still, a rare experience, we were told. I peeled off the sweater and outer shirt and enjoyed the surroundings. The skyline of lit up Chicago backed by lavender, pink, and gold flowing sunset colors was spectacular. The campus and grand old neighborhoods were lush with green lawns, flowers, and such tall trees. A refreshing walk in places I had never been nor may ever be again.
And I loved the gentleness and deep but quiet happiness that seemed to be in the lives of Jeanne and Allen. Conversations about life, family, intentional community were warm with shared hearts and experiences, sprinkled with very spirited comments from our 10 year old granddaughter , who walked sometimes with the ladies in the back and sometimes with her grandfather and Allen walking in front of us.
These precious people, deeply embedded in the multicultures of Chicago and of the people who are their everyday family, shared their time and attention with us weary wanderers that evening. Simple, tangible expressions of love. Hospitality doesn’t need to be elaborate and complicated. For me it will never get done if I have to “entertain/perform.”
But people remain a great blessing in the journey of life. I’d love another chance to walk around those quiet shores with Jeanne and Allen.