“We always treat guests as angels, just in case.”
Brother Jeremiah, early Christian monk
When you say “yes” to God, allowing him to teach you about outrageous hospitality, He doesn’t disappoint.
In the span of one week, I’ve learned more than my fair share of what outrageous hospitality can look like. I’ve witnessed a community pulling together to be #MountainStrong in the aftermath of a natural disaster and earlier this week we found ourselves on the receiving end of hospitality at both a hotel and hospital. Only God could orchestrate that level of detail. Outrageous, huh?
The words hospitality, hospital, and hostel (origin of the word hotel) all share a common root. Naturally, I would find myself experiencing all three this week. That’s normal, right?
Husband and I returned to Dallas this week with Littlest for a pre-op appointment at Scottish Rite Hospital. Littlest has a rare form of congenital scoliosis and will have surgery in January. Our visit this week marked the beginning of what we’ve long known needed to happen. I’ll share more of her story soon, but in the meantime you can catch up by reading these posts.
Hotel: An establishment providing accommodations, meals, and other services for travelers.
Before leaving for the hospital, we stopped in the hotel restaurant for breakfast where we met Deborah, our waitress. It became evident very quickly that Deborah was there to offer more than coffee and pancakes. Deborah, in her mid-50’s, has scoliosis too.
I listened intently, fighting back tears, while Littlest shared the story of her back, the big surgery, and the bright pink body cast. All the while Deborah smiled, asked questions, and mostly listened to a very animated Littlest. She brought a piping hot plate of pancakes to which Littlest exclaimed, “oh my gosh is that powdered sugar?” Deborah must have asked for an extra dusting of sweetness knowing it would delight the six-year-old at table twelve.
We talked longer than we should have, truly enjoying our morning meal and the conversation with our new friend. When we left Deborah gave Littlest a huge hug. She invited us to come back and stay, as if the hotel were her home, in January. As we left, Littlest told me Deborah was beautiful and she reminded her of the Deborah in the Bible. I wasn’t aware she knew the story of Deborah. We’ve been home three days and Littlest is still talking about her friend Deborah. Outrageous, huh?
Hospital: An establishment providing treatment and care for the sick or injured.
A few minutes later, we pulled into the parking lot at Scottish Rite Hospital. Littlest and her daddy struck out ahead and I lingered behind with my camera wanting to capture images of the place I both feared and admired. Upon entering the crayon gates of the hospital, my fear dissipated. A cheerful woman greeted Littlest and pointed us to the reception area. Immediately, the smell of buttered popcorn tempted our tummies. Littlest knew right where to go and gladly accepted a warm bag, even though the sugared up pancakes were still happy in her full belly.
As we continued through our morning of x-rays and waiting rooms, I was in awe of the hospitality offered at virtually every corner. A cheery welcome, an offering of something warm and tasty to eat, the sound of music that soothed and delighted, and the gift of a toy after her X-rays.
Peering deeper into our surroundings what I saw was truly remarkable. At the hospital there were no divisions of physical ability, age, income, race, or religion. No one looked the same on the outside, yet every one at the hospital was there for the same reason to receive treatment, care, and healing.
Did you know that since it was founded in 1921, Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children has never charged anyone for services? Free – to all those in need. No questions asked (ok maybe there’s a weeeee bit of paperwork!).
Feeling overwhelmed with gratitude for this place that will provide treatment, care, and, Lord willing, healing for my youngest daughter, I turned my focus to yet another gift waiting right before my very eyes.
Three little girls, strangers, gathered around a small table laughing and sharing stories.
At that point, I lost it. Excused myself to the bright red and yellow bathroom and bawled my eyes out. Seven years of fear and anxiety poured out in tears by the bucketful and then a welcome sense of peace washed over me. The kind of peace that could only be from the Giver. I was smack dab in the middle of receiving the gift of outrageous hospitality. We were WELCOME in this place. Affirmed. Comforted. Safe. Valued. Every gesture, space and word spoken from volunteers to the Chief of Staff said, “Sarah matters. We will take good care of her.”
Outrageous, huh? Jesus is like that, friends. And, learning hospitality from his perspective is a game changer. Believe me.
Day #4 Table Talk: When have you received Outrageous Hospitality?