I learned hospitality from Patsy Forbus. She was like my second mother. She lived three houses down and knew me since the day I was born. Her daughter was one of my best friends and we played between our houses almost every day. Funny thing, we almost always ended up sitting around Patsy’s kitchen table, enjoying a little treat- a sip of water or (if we were lucky) a glass of Coca Cola- and talking about the day. Patsy had this way of opening up that table to include as many of us as had stopped in. There was always plenty; there was always a space; there was always time for her to sit and listen….really listen…to what we had to say and ask questions, and laugh with us, and talk through the stuff of childhood with us. This comfortable, kidney-shaped table in the middle of her warm kitchen was just right for squeezing in and sitting close, and, making room for each one and paying attention to everyone. She taught us, in how she opened that space, that hospitality – real hospitality – provided comfort and calm and refreshment, even for our souls.
That kind of hospitality I learned at Patsy’s table was practiced, too, by a first-century Rabbi whose Table was wherever he was, and the “treat” whatever was there. Loaves and fishes, or water and wine, he made a space so that those around him could be welcomed. Space where they could be heard, ask questions, and listen as they found refreshment, even for their souls.
This has become the way I live. Making space for conversation around tables – some physical and some metaphorical- where sustenance and openness and welcome can be found. Making a place- with a cup of coffee, or over a delicious meal, or sometimes simply the gift of time and space- where whoever is present can squeeze in, and share their story, experience comfort and calm, and be heard and be welcomed.
This I believe: real hospitality – “Gospel Hospitality”- is changing the world- one table at a time.
Dani Loving Cartwright is a 5th-generation member of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). As an alum of both TCU and Brite Divinity School, she bleeds purple! She has served the Christian Church (Disciples) as a congregational pastor, as a Regional minister, and now serves with the National Benevolent Association – the health and social services general ministry of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) as the Associate Vice President of Operations. She is married to the Rev. David Cartwright and proud co-parent of the Rev. Douglass Anne Cartwright.