the peace of imperfect hospitality

I soaked the beans and chopped the onions. Grated carrots, browned the meat. Cinnamon, cumin, chili, cayenne. Tomatoes, peppers, corn, and done.

Cider simmered on the stove and pumpkin pies cooled there on racks. The fire was lit, the beer was iced, and friends arrived on a still-warm autumn night.

We didn't send one invitation or make any calls. There were certainly people we forgot to tell; we only mentioned it to those we saw in days before.

Come over Friday, we told them. We're making chili and lighting a campfire. It would be great to see you there.

And it was. It was a party.


I won't blame Pinterest. We were paralyzed by Perfect long before.

Was it glossy magazines? Martha Stewart? Cable? Who told us that hospitality had to be gourmet, expensive? That homes must be seasonally decorated? Who said floors had to be fresh-scrubbed or counters clear before we could open our homes, our hearts?

The illusion of perfection creates walls; hospitality tears them down.

I don't need to be impressed. If your house (life?) appears to be perfect, what could you possibly want with me and my mess? It's connection, not perfection, that we need

We have friends that are amazing at informal, impromptu hospitality. They are a family of seven, but there's always room for one more.

Pull up a chair! Pass the bread. It's better with butter. Isn't everything?? We're so glad that you're here.

And they are. And I am. We're different in a lot of ways, but at this table we are one, and it is good. I have dined with fancier parties but rarely felt so welcomed or so warm.


We're learning as we go. It's still not first-nature (even though I like to envision myself a free spirit), so we practice setting extra places at our table. We cultivate places of peace amid the clutter and chaos.

If we wait until it's perfect it will never be at all. So we make the chili and pour the wine.We extend the invitation "just because." Celebrating life is reason enough.

Slow and messy, out of ash, community grows up from the ground.

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