Messy Hospitality: Inviting Each Other Into Our Sacred Mess

A sink full of dirty dishes

I didn’t know it, but my heart needed some messy hospitality.

It was a Saturday afternoon and I texted my friend who’d be arriving in a couple hours for our families to eat together and connect.

I shot off a text to her. “I’m coming to terms with the fact that my house won’t be clean in time."

I’d been running around all day trying to prepare for the perfect dinner, baking and cleaning and obsessing over things that didn’t matter.  I love this family that was visiting, and I wanted it to be special.  She texted back with “Can we just choose not to do this? Not worry about the societal expectations?  Not try to entertain or impress one another?  Can we just be us?”

An invitation to do life.

My friend’s text was an invitation to freedom.  An invitation to lay down all my striving and expectations, all my doubts about myself and my home and the meal.  An invitation to be myself and to be accepted.

I accepted the invitation.  The seasonal coats were half sorted in one corner of the dining room and there were muddy little hand prints on the bathroom door.  There were signs of life; messy, chaotic, often in-over-our-heads life, all over the house.  And you know what? It was fine.  We drank good coffee and laughed and let the kids paint birdhouses with glitter paint at the kitchen table.

It was better than fine.  It was a sacred space.

Friends, this matters. Whether or not we open the door when the counters are messy and the floors are unswept and dinner is from a box, it matters.  Because it is the times that we need people the most that we feel most inadequate.   It is when we most need to sit raw and exposed that we feel as if we have the most to hide. It is when we feel most overwhelmed by the mess that our hearts most need us to swing open the doors and invite others in.

Because the mess, inside and out,can isolate us.  It can make us feel alone and unknown.  Or it can draw us together into a sacred community of messy, broken people who need each other. We need each other whether there are crumbs on the floor or not.

What if this messy hospitality is sacred space?

What if our messy house sends a much-needed message that imperfection is welcome here?  What if those cheerios on the floor and the Legos under the sofa says, “I need this relationship more than I need to have it all together.”?  What if opening the door to our mess and chaos is the first step of inviting people into our truth and our journey?

I need this reminder often.  I forget, again and again, that all grand and beautiful things are created in mess and chaos. That we ourselves are made from dirt.  That authentic community begins where our need to impress ends.

Friends, can we just choose not to do this?  Not worry about the societal expectations?  Not try to entertain or impress? Can we invite one another into messy hospitality, to just be, and to be accepted?

Because if we do, I am certain, we will find a sacred space amid the messiness.  Cheerios on the floor and all.

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