Monday, October 11, 2010

monday mix tape [the art of hospitality edition]

i chose a theme, found variations on the theme from the world of everyday art, literature, music, film, television, internet, travel, and mashed them together into one post, like separate tracks on a mixtape, see?

track 1: the teaser

track 2: notes on a theme

In 2009, when I turned 38 years old, my husband threw me an amazing birthday party.  The birthday party of my dreams, actually.  Here's my recap from March 2008: (click the link to see a  photo slideshow)

Ever since I saw this movie I've wanted to throw what we now call a Once party. (I wrote about the movie here.)

Watch the movie. Look for the scene in the middle of the movie where a ton of people squeeze into a Dublin flat, eat pasta, drink wine and ale, and sing for their supper.

This is the party I wanted to be at.

If I knew Tina Fey when I first saw the scene I would have said, I want to go to there.

So, Brian threw me this party for my birthday.

My friends came and brought food and art. They sang and read and danced and played and showed and shared beauty. Beauty in original songs, favorite books, acapella tenors, Longfellow poetry, Virginia Woolf prose, Debussy and The Marriage of Figaro.

We cleared off the living room floor and danced the polka to "There Is No Beer in Heaven" and we admired handpainted miniatures, cross-stitch samples and photo-collages. And homemade spaghetti sauce and rich, dry wine. And, oh lord, the desserts! Homemade strawberry cheesecake and a lush, like 32-layer chocolate trifle thing with crumbled up candy bars.

As my contribution I read this postAnd cried. Alot.

We told stories and laughed and ate and I wished it would never end.

So I'm not afraid of 38 and, if every birthday brings this much beauty, then who cares about old age?

track 3: links
  • A blog I check on occasion, Reluctant Entertainer, built on the premise that we do not need to wait for perfection to offer hospitality.
  • Dinner Party Beneath the Golden Gate Bridge @ Oh Happy Day:  I'm not really ever planning on throwing this party, but I sure loved looking at the gorgeous pictures and imagining it! (also, her brief description of a backyard movie party here.)
  • Nurturing the Ties that Bind by Andi Ashworth:  a lovely post written by a woman who not only knows the art of hospitality, but has specialized in showing hospitality to artists. (find her recipe for Pasta Shells with Bacon, Peas and Ricotta here.)

track 4: books

Speaking of the woman who cares for artists, Andi's literally written the book on the subject.  I read this over a year ago and immediately loaned it to a friend whom I was reminded of the entire time I read the book.  Ms. Ashworth takes the time to weave her growing-up story, learning the art of making a place for the lonely and exhausted from her beloved grandmother, and her story of becoming wife to musician Charlie Peacock, mother, hostess to artists from all over the world.  She includes plenty of practical advice, but none were more powerful than her stories of giving and receiving care.

The Hidden Art of Homemaking by Edith Schaeffer

I  don't remember if Ms. Ashworth credits Edith Schaeffer as an inspiration and I can't look it up because I've loaned out the book.  It's a pretty safe guess, though, since she and her husband Charlie Peacock have, in a way, created L'abri 2.0 with  Art House America.

This book is a favorite and I've already posted about it here.  
For the mixtape, I'll leave you with a small excerpt about the hospitality of food:
"Jesus will communicate with you, as you eat alone, as you talk with Him and read His Word and think about Him, and will be with you in a real way. But there is a very important truth to recognize beyond this, and that is that the only way we can actually prepare a meal lovingly and with great attention to beauty and tastefulness, for Jesus, is to prepare it for "one of the least of these" His brethren. That added touch of beauty, the extra bit of work, the imaginative creative cooking, if done by the Christian with a conscious love for the Lord, is not only helpful for the individuals for whom we are cooking, but is accepted by the Lord as having been done for Him."  
Following this she shares her experience of feeding the homeless men who traveled through her town from the nearby railroad when she and "Fran" were newly in the ministry. She exhorts us, her readers, to not take shortcuts when trying to figure out whom the "least of these" defines. 

In other words, true hospitality seems to be a whole lot like true religion.

track 5: films

Many, many excellent films include themes of hospitality; themes that range from the beautiful (the elves of Rivendell) to the slapstick (Meet the Parents), but I can not think of a film more compelling in its sensual display of lavish, outrageous, wasteful and loving hospitality than the story told in Babette's Feast. (see "teaser" above for a clip) 

Babette serves a tiny community used to scarcity to a sumptuous feast of all the best food and drink for the sole purpose of offering them kindness and beauty.  For their part, they are only slightly aware of the superiority of Babette's cooking, but the force of its sheer extravagance overcomes them anyway.  By the end of the evening, they know that they have been together in a way they have never before experienced, drawn together by the power of bread and wine. 

It is a beautiful film; please do not let the subtitles keep you from enjoying the many profound layers of the simply-told story.

Can you add any examples of extreme hospitality in literature or film.  Even better, in real-life examples?

Linking to Life Made Lovely Monday.

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