When I was in college, I spent a summer hiking half of the Appalachian Trail with two buddies. Our first few days were really rough. Carrying heavy packs, nursing blistered feet and massaging sore muscles pushed us to our limits. We considered giving up entirely.
By dinnertime on the third night, we were so emotionally exasperated that we struggled to simply light our camp stove. A solo hiker passing through approached to offer his assistance. He showed us the “trail way” to light our stove and helped us get the water boiling. He then deposited a large plastic bag filled with chocolate covered peanut candies on the makeshift picnic table and said:
“Y’all look like you could use some of this before your meal. Help yourself!”
Famished, we enthusiastically dug in.
Come morning, to our surprise, the solo hiker was gone without a trace. I was reminded of a verse in the Bible that says, “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:12)
We certainly didn’t feel angelic ourselves that day, with our trail grime and stinky attitudes, but that hiker who stopped to help three strangers truly was an angel! His hospitality was divine and rekindled our hopes that we would learn along the way, adapt and eventually reach our destination (which we did).
Here at Pine Rest, we offer hospitality every day. Patients, residents, and clients often feel anxious when they come to us. Our hospitality takes many forms. We greet these individuals, listen to them and attend to their needs. We serve them wholesome meals, a clean bed to sleep in, and we provide them with care that protects their safety and wellbeing. We strive to teach them helpful coping skills and offer therapeutic relationships. These expressions of hospitality fuel patients’ hope for restored health and a renewed spirit.
As we embark upon the new year, let us hope for an array of longings to be fulfilled: Healing of mental illnesses; recovery from addictions; safe housing options; justice and equity; restored relationships; and more. Waiting with such longing is much more bearable when others join us. When we practice hospitality together as one, hope grows.
May we share hospitality with others and delight in the ways our hospitality fuels hope … in 2024 and the years beyond.