Discussion Questions, Storytelling, Sharing

  • As an ice-breaker at the next meeting, go quickly around the circle, each answering these questions: Are you a better guest or host? Which would you rather be?
  • Asked to identify the most important question in life, Albert Einstein said, "Is the universe a friendly place or not?" On a scale of 1 - 10, rank the universe's friendliness. Then talk about how your assessment might influence your practice of hospitality.
  • Tell a story about an encounter with another religion — a conversation with a believer, a visit to a sacred site, attendance at a ritual, or use of a practice — and what you learned from the experience.

Imagery Exercise

Rumi, in a poem included in The Essential Rumi translated by Coleman Barks, gives us one of the images for this exercise:

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning is a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!

The Letter to the Hebrews (13:2) in the New Testament contains the same advice:

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers,
for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

The intention of this exercise, "Welcoming," is to experience hospitality.

Close your eyes. Breathe out three long, slow exhalations.

Hearing a knock on the door of your house, see yourself going quickly to answer it and, without hesitating, opening the door and inviting whoever or whatever is there to come in. Who is your guest? What is your guest doing and saying? Sense and feel how you are welcoming your guest, even if her or she is not expected or acceptable to you.

Breathe out three times. See yourself sitting at your dinner table with all the seats being filled by strangers — people and other beings. Eating your meal, know that you are entertaining angels. What happens and how do you feel?

When you are ready, open your eyes.

Journal Exercises

  • Write a memory of a time when you were welcomed into somebody's home. What did your hosts do to make you feel at ease? Then reflect upon how you can be hospitable in other settings, such as at work or in your community.
  • Write a memory of a time when a group to which you belonged excluded someone from membership because they were different. How do you feel about this action?