“Languages are epistemologies as well as human bridges.” (Elizabeth Alexander, The Light of the World)

Have you ever noticed the way voices sound, the rhythmic dance of tonal inflections, the same in every language? If you really listen, discipline your ear, to notice just outside the words, within the context of communication, you can attach meanings to the word clusters. That’s the dance of hospitality, attuning your ears of service to the desires of your wayfaring guests, no matter their culture of origin.

My sixth-grade teacher opened my eyes to epistemology, the study of the history of words. We had these muddy brown covered workbooks called, “Vocabulary Builder” with ten words assigned per week. It was the typical spelling curriculum of: spell the word, define the word, and put it into a sentence. But the magic in these weekly exercises was questioning the history of each word. Where did it come from? How did its suffixes and prefixes come together? How did it travel into the English language?

These lessons sparked my life-long love of words, especially how words are connected to different languages and cultures. That’s how hospitality works; find the commonalities, gather word clusters together, settle into the warmth and comfort of a common meal’s word banter, and garner enriching community.

Hospitality becomes a holy experience. How? More than a meal savored, my guests’ language of kindness, humanity, and very existence nourishes some essential core within myself.

Yes, hospitality can talk!

How do you celebrate the holy exchange within hospitality?

Remember to show hospitality. There are some who, by doing so have entertained angels without knowing it. 

Hebrews 13:2

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