Hospitality is one of the oldest values in many cultures. The word comes from roots meaning to receive or entertain guests. Hospitality meant welcoming strangers to one’s home, making sure they were cared for and safe. We’ve extended this to mean other ways in which we are open to people or ideas, often with warmth and acceptance. These quotes explore some of the meanings of hospitality.

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Our full humanity is contingent on our hospitality; we can be complete only when we are giving something away; when we sit at the table and pass the peas to the person next to us we see that person in a whole new way.

— Alice Waters

Turning your nose up at a genuine and sincere gesture of hospitality is no way to travel or to make friends around the world.

— Anthony Bourdain

A Humanist Code of Ethics:
Do no harm to the earth, she is your mother.
Being is more important than having.
Never promote yourself at another’s expense.
Hold life sacred; treat it with reverence.
Allow each person the digity of his or her labor.
Open your home to the wayfarer.
Be ready to receive your deepest dreams;
sometimes they are the speech of unblighted conscience.
Always make restitutions to the ones you have harmed.
Never think less of yourself than you are.
Never think that you are more than another.

— Arthur Dobrin

There is always a way to be honest without being brutal.

— Arthur Dobrin

Hospitality, or flinging wide the door to friends and wayfarers alike, was once important, back in a world without motels or safety nets, where a friend might find his castle burnt down or a wayfarer find bandits on his trail.

— Barbara Holland

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.

— Bible

In Ireland, you go to someone’s house, and she asks you if you want a cup of tea. You say no, thank you, you’re really just fine. She asks if you’re sure. You say of course you’re sure, really, you don’t need a thing. Except they pronounce it ting. You don’t need a ting. Well, she says then, I was going to get myself some anyway, so it would be no trouble. Ah, you say, well, if you were going to get yourself some, I wouldn’t mind a spot of tea, at that, so long as it’s no trouble and I can give you a hand in the kitchen. Then you go through the whole thing all over again until you both end up in the kitchen drinking tea and chatting.
In America, someone asks you if you want a cup of tea, you say no, and then you don’t get any damned tea.
I liked the Irish way better.

— C.E. Murphy

At the beginning of the twenty-first century, to feel alone or want to be alone is deeply unfashionable: to admit to feeling alone is to reject and betray others, as if they are not good company, and do not have entertaining, interesting lives of their own to distract us, and to actually seek to be alone is a radical act; to want to be alone is to refuse a certain kind of conversational hospitality and to turn to another door, and another kind of welcome, not necessarily defined by human vocabulary.

— David Whyte

Africans believe in something that is difficult to render in English. We call it ubuntu, botho. It means the essence of being human. You know when it is there and when it is absent. It speaks about humaneness, gentleness, hospitality, putting yourself out on behalf of others, being vulnerable. It embraces compassion and toughness. It recognizes that my humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.

— Desmond Tutu

True hospitality consists of giving the best of yourself to your guests.

— Eleanor Roosevelt

Stories are verbal acts of hospitality.

— Eugene H. Peterson

All true friendliness begins with fire and food and drink and the recognition of rain or frost. …Each human soul has in a sense to enact for itself the gigantic humility of the Incarnation. Every man must descend into the flesh to meet mankind.

— G. K. Chesterton

Even after all this time,
The sun never says to the earth,
‘You owe me.’
Look what happens with
A love like that.
It lights the whole sky.

— Hafiz of Persia

But still – that is our vocation: to convert the hostis into a hospes, the enemy into a guest and to create the free and fearless space where brotherhood and sisterhood can be formed and fully experienced.

— Henri Nouwen

True Hospitality is welcoming the stranger on her own terms. This kind of hospitality can only be offered by those who’ve found the center of their lives in their own hearts.

— Henri Nouwen

The paradox of hospitality is that it wants to create emptiness, not a fearful emptiness, but a friendly emptiness where strangers can enter and discover themselves as created free….not a subtle invitation to adopt the life style of the host, but the gift of a chance for the guest to find his own.

— Henri Nouwen

Hospitality is not to change people, but to offer them space where change can take place. It is not to bring men and women over to our side, but to offer freedom not disturbed by dividing lines. It is not to lead our neighbor into a corner where there are no alternatives left, but to open a wide spectrum of options for choice and commitment. It is not an educated intimidation with good books, good stories, and good works, but the liberation of fearful hearts so that words can find roots and bear ample fruit.

— Henri Nouwen

Hospitality should have no other nature than love.

— Henrietta Mears

Dreams are guests who ensoul our lives if we have hospitality for them.

— Jeannine Parvati Baker

Eating, and hospitality in general, is a communion, and any meal worth attending by yourself is improved by the multiples of those with whom it is shared.

— Jesse Browner

Hospitality means we take people into the space that is our lives and our minds and our hearts and our work and our efforts. Hospitality is the way we come out of ourselves. It is the first step towards dismantling the barriers of the world. Hospitality is the way we turn a prejudiced world around, one heart at a time.

— Joan D. Chittister

Hospitality is simply love on the loose.

— Joan D. Chittister

Ideas, knowledge, art, hospitality, travel – these are things which should in their nature be international. But let goods be homespun whenever it is reasonably and conveniently possible and above all let finance be primarily national.

— John Maynard Keynes

Hospitality is making your guests feel at home, even if you wish they were.

— Justine Vogt

If it were not for guests all houses would be graves.

— Kahlil Gibran

True hospitality is marked by an open response to the dignity of each and every person.

— Kathleen Norris

Extending hospitality to all, even to the most cloddish, truly is the basis of civilization. The fact that the most cloddish, having nothing better to do, always show up and spoil the party for everyone else probably spells civilization’s ultimate doom.

— Kathleen Rooney

In the cherry blossom’s shade
there’s no such thing
as a stranger.

— Kobayashi Issa

Hospitality is the practice of God’s welcome by reaching across difference to participate in God’s actions bringing justice and healing to our world in crisis.

— Letty M. Russell

There is nothing that makes me happier than sitting around the dinner table and talking until the candles are burned down.

— Madeleine L’Engle

I’m telling you this because I want you to grasp the nuances of Persian hospitality. Whether entering or leaving, all guests must be accorded the honor and dignity of monarchs, because they are.

— Michael Benzehabe, Persianality

The word hospitality in the New Testament comes from two Greek words. The first word means love and the second word means strangers. Its a word that means love of strangers.

— Nancy Leigh DeMoss

The Arabs used to say,
When a stranger appears at your door,
feed him for three days
before asking who he is,
where he’s come from,
where he’s headed.
That way, he’ll have strength
enough to answer.
Or, by then you’ll be
such good friends
you don’t care.

— Naomi Shihab Nye, Red Brocade

Hospitality invites to prayer before it checks credentials, welcomes to the table before administering the entrance exam.

— Patrick Henry

There is no beautifier of complexion, or form, or behavior, like the wish to scatter joy and not pain around us. ‘Tis good to give a stranger a meal, or a night’s lodging. ‘Tis better to be hospitable to his good meaning and thought, and give courage to a companion. We must be as courteous to a man as we are to a picture, which we are willing to give the advantage of a good light.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson
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