Image: Me, standing in the doorway to our home using my walker. Welcome to Beit Adar/Burnett! (Photo by Linda Burnett)
Back in 2013, I wrote a blog post about my desire to become more hospitable:
Excerpts from The Hospitality Challenge: I Dare You!:
…I am in the process of moving into a new home. I’m organizing it with two goals in mind. (1) It needs to be accessible enough that my honey and I can get old in it, and disabled friends can come to visit with dignity. (2) It needs to be set up like the Tent of Abraham, to welcome friends and strangers who will become new friends.
I am a teaching rabbi, and I admit, part of it is that I need to do more of my teaching in an environment that gentler on my own disabilities. But more of it is that I know this works, because it worked on me. Our home will not be a synagogue or a substitute for a synagogue. It will be a Jewish home, hospitably open to other people. We’ll find them at synagogue, we’ll find them in class, we’ll find them when they wander into our lives. And they will be welcome. And then we will teach by example: you can do this. Invite someone over.
Linda and I are both introverts. This is going to require some stretching. That’s why I’m writing about it under the #BlogElul topic “Dare.”
Committing to ongoing hospitality requires daring from my introverted soul. I worry that I’m an awful housekeeper, I’m not a very good cook, I tend to run around barefoot at home, the dogs will misbehave, what will we do if they don’t leave? what will I do if they criticize me? what if what if what if … and it simply doesn’t matter. I’m going to give this mitzvah a go.
Now, exactly five years later, I can tell you that I’ve changed. Linda and I regularly “have folks over” here at Beit Adar/Burnett, even though we are still introverts and my disabilities have continued to progress. We have regular “Pot Luck Dessert Havdalahs” and guests are a constant. I carefully do not think of it as “entertaining” – it’s the mitzvah of hakhnasat orchim, welcoming guests.
I have grown beyond (some of) my self-centered habits and worries. My disabilities have grown, but so has my world.
I brush aside whatever project is sprawled across the dining room table, and they enter. I apologize for whatever mess there is – once- and then I ignore it, because this is not about Better Homes & Gardens: this is a holy place, our Jewish home.