Hospitality as an act of devotion and worship has been important to me for several years. I open my home, go out of my way to ensure my guests are without want, and ask very little in return. A recent visitor has forced me to rethink much, and the limits and merits of such.
Depending upon my level of knowing and interaction with people will determine just how I respond to treating them as guests. Everyone, regardless, will be offered food and drink. It may not be much, but something will be offered. The better I know someone though, gets them more of a ‘make yourself at home’ approach. You will still be offered food and drink, but will also be extended the offer of ‘help yourself.’ This is not something that is given lightly. If those words come out of my mouth, a great deal of trust is being put forth. These nuances of hospitality are not something that normally need to be explained to someone.
Treating my guests well and trying to ensure that they leave happy and content is an act of imitation. I recognize sacredness in the Being of each person. I worship my Gods and Goddesses and further give them honor through the imitation of this worship by extending offerings of food, drink, place, and kinship unto those I have welcomed into my hearth.
Recently the doors of my home were opened to a guest, a relative by marriage whom I have had very little interaction with. Our hospitality was offered in the spirit of them being family and in need. They are not someone I know well or would treat in the same way as a very close and dear friend. Simply put, I barely know them. Apparently the basic offerings of ‘can we get your something to eat or drink’ turned into ‘please make yourself at home and eat or drink anything you want regardless of whether it has been offered.’ I could list several things is which I feel this person overstepped their welcome with.
Needless to say, I was not happy then or now with their stay. I feel as if my hospitality was not just accepted but taken advantage of, and I have spent the last couple of days re-evaluating a lot of things. Normally people are familiar with the nuances of where the line has been drawn in the sand of welcome. So I must conclude, either they have no concept of what it means to be a good guest, assumed because we are family that they do not apply, or just didn’t care.
Due to family circumstances at the moment, this person will be in our area, in need of a place to stay, about once a month for the next year or so. I am torn. I want to offer a place to stay and the basic offering of ensuring they are feed. Likewise, I want to deadbolt the door and booby-trap the lawn.
If they are to continue to be welcomed, then an understanding must be reached. Returning to the idea of treating guests in imitation, I may have found the answer. Though my practice is polytheistic and I have and continue to work with multiple Gods and Goddesses, I have not made all Gods and Goddesses welcome. In fact, I have expressly made it clear that some of them are not welcome. If I can tell a God or Goddess that I realize they are divine and still not offer them a place at my hearth, then I can do the same to other Beings.
I have not figured out an approach to take yet. I do know that I am willing to open my doors in the spirit of helping family, but only if they can learn some basic manners in regards to being a guest; I will not have my hospitality desecrated, for it is sacred, and I do not have to quarter such.
"Lost in a thicket bare-footed upon a thorned path."