May You Enter This House A Guest, And Leave It A Friend

It is no surprise at all that I enjoy a good dinner party [1], and today I had a chance to be an early guest at the new place of a couple of people that I know from church. They happen to be a couple about my age with an adorable and somewhat noisy small child who likes to explore the area around services, and for about seven hours today I was over at their house conversing with them, and the time vanished away very rapidly as I got to know them. There have been a lot of fateful dinner conversations over the course of my life, many of which have been intriguing and some of which have dramatically influenced the course of events for me by putting me in a sustained period of conversation and interaction with specific people, which often leads to entertaining and important results.

At the house where I ate and chatted at such length (not leaving until midnight; I am really bad about leaving places [2]), there was a sign on the wall that said something like “May you enter this house a guest, and leave it a friend.” I happen to appreciate that sentiment a great deal, as it relates a great deal to my own life and to the ultimate goal behind my love of socialization in small groups. If one is enjoying a fine meal and a heartfelt and sincere conversation with decent people, it is impossible to spend a lot of time with others without getting to know them better as a person and to appreciate them. It is impossible to spend hours and hours with someone and not find a great deal to enjoy in the similarities and differences that one has with others, to see something of the character and personality of others shining through, and to feel a closer bond with others that can help make the world a less lonely place, and that is something that all of us can appreciate (especially someone like myself).

In the ancient world, it was considered the highest form of treachery to betray someone who was breaking bread with you. This does not mean that it did not happen, only that it was particularly offensive and violated the cultural norms that made hospitality something to be treasured. I am not the sort of person who believes that a dinner party needs to be a great production, although as a host I tend to be a mix between Mary and Martha when it comes to enjoying conversation as well as being conscientious and busy in preparing food and the other activities that a host tends to do. I prefer, in contrast, those dinners that allow for the enjoyment and building of intimacy, where there is the opportunity for sincere conversation. I tend to prefer small enough groups that allow for personal conversation even with the omnipresent risk that personal conversation will lead into deep and dark territory (which I consider fairly inevitable given the life I have lived). Such was the case tonight, but at the same time it was a chance to realize that our experiences can help us to find the humor in life, as grim as that may be, as well as the chance to find other kindred souls, something that tends to be easier over food and conversation.

Perhaps that is the reason why love feasts were such an important aspect of the early Church of God, and why their modern equivalent, pot lucks and the like, tend to be so common. Yet it is one thing to enjoy a dinner with a handful of people at a table in a crowd of hundreds, where we tend to sit around people that we already know, and a different thing to relish those opportunities both to deepen existing friendships as well as make new ones. It takes a certain amount of privacy in order to build a deep relationship with others. This either requires a close attention to setting and location, or, on the other hand, the ability to ignore the crowds that are around and to be sincere and candid even given the possibility that what one says may be overheard. Sometimes that is a risk that one must take. Yet it is better if such a risk is not necessary, but if one can enjoy the coziness of a home and to enjoy the trust and comfort that sharing one’s home with others, or sharing the comforts of the home of others, can provide.

[1] See, for example:

[2] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Christianity, History, Musings and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to May You Enter This House A Guest, And Leave It A Friend

  1. Pingback: Chick Magnet | Edge Induced Cohesion

  2. Pingback: Book Review: Befriend | Edge Induced Cohesion

  3. Pingback: Adventures In Urban Orienteering | Edge Induced Cohesion

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