hospital and hospitality

Hospitals and Hospitality: Places of Healing

picture inside a house with a welcoming doorway for hospitalityI was reminded recently (by Victoria Sweet, author of God’s Hotel) that hospital and hospitality share the same root word. I tend to think of hospitals as sterile places where we go when our bodies are in dire need of curing and fixing. Hospitals are the place to set broken bones and stitch up open wounds. The place to endure cancer treatments and surgeries. And of course, especially lately, the place to receive life support through medication and ventilators.⁠

Anyone who has received treatment in a hospital setting knows that fixing and curing isn’t the only way to help a patient get well. I’ll never forget the way the nurses cared for my raw and vulnerable spirit in the days after Penny was born and diagnosed with Down syndrome. I’ll also never forget the brusque dismissal by some of the doctors we saw when Penny was an infant, the sense that they didn’t think she was worth caring for.⁠

Hospital and Hospitality

That’s where this link between hospital and hospitality comes up. The very best nurses and doctors didn’t just offer us medical solutions and cures. They welcomed us into a space of healing and care.⁠

For those of us who don’t have the medical training to diagnose a disease or suggest treatment for a specific source of pain, we nevertheless can participate in healing. In showing true hospitality—sincere, loving, non-judgmental welcome to another person—we become little hospitals for one another. We become places of care for our broken and wounded souls.⁠

Each of Us Can Give

Being welcomed by others is as important for our care as bandages and antibiotics. Each of us can give hospitality: A warm word of welcome—even on Zoom. An invitation for a walk outside. A table set with simple nurturing food. Each of us can be a little hospital. Each of us can offer healing.

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