According to the Dedicant manual, to be hospitable is to be “a gracious host and an appreciative guest.” Hospitality also involves “friendliness, humor, and the honoring of ‘a gift for a gift.’” The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a hospitable person as “given to generous and cordial reception of guests.” I feel that these definitions aptly describe the virtue of hospitality, and I believe that the definition given by the Dedicant manual is better than that of the dictionary. Hospitality should not just be reserved for a host. Guests should also be giving and willing to help out, or at least give off a friendly disposition.
In retrospect, I wasn’t a very hospitable person when I was younger. I didn’t like to share my toys or my food with my family and, while I had friends over, I wasn’t very good at making sure that they were comfortable. It wasn’t until I grew older that I finally understood the value of hospitality, probably through meeting someone who was just as inhospitable as myself.
My mother is one of the most hospitable people I know and I think her virtue has finally reached me. I grew into someone who realized that people want to feel welcomed and appreciated. In a community, it is important for everyone to chip in and do their part. I can understand why this would be a Druidic virtue because the Celts, who were a tribal people, depended on hospitality to keep their communities running smoothly. After having read a few books on Celtic history, I’ve come to understand that the Celtic Kings, at least in Ireland, were expected to be hospitable to their people in exchange for the tribe’s continued agricultural support.
Along with the Celts, I know that the Greeks also valued hospitality. An example of this can be found in the story of the famous Argonaut, Jason. He helped an old woman to cross a river and she happened to be the Goddess Hera in disguise. The Greeks believed that anyone could be a God incognito and so hospitality to strangers was of upmost concern. We can modernize this idea. Even if we don’t believe that someone is actually a God or Goddess in disguise, we can still recognize the person in question as a fellow creature of the Earth, commiserate with his or her wants and needs, and do our best to treat him or her as we would want to be treated.
~Grey Catling, 2008