Times were tough for children many years ago when sweets and biscuits would have been an occasional treat. Often the good biscuits were kept for visitors. On these occasions I discovered where my mother hid all the chocolates and buns!
Before the visitors arrived you were warned not to touch the buns or biscuits. Even if the visitor offered you a bun from the plate you were to say no. If you dared to say yes, Derry wasn’t a big enough hiding place from your mother who would have grounded you for a week for having dared set your eyes on, never mind touch a chocolate biscuit.
One man I was talking to explained how in their house they had a code when visitors arrived and the tea was served. It consisted of three letters F.H.B which meant ‘family hold back’. This meant you put your life in danger if you went anywhere near the plate.
If you were good you might have been allowed some of the leftovers if there were any. Of course when the visitors arrived and they were skinny you jumped for joy thinking you had a better chance of sharing out the left overs when they had gone. Of course if a priest arrived you knew you had no chance!
When people come to visit we like to treat them well, we try to show our much we value their friendship through our generosity and care.
The hospitality we receive from family, friends and neighbours can be a reality we come to expect and take for granted. In some respects we can be tempted to expect people’s generosity and help as a right. When such attitudes set in, we find it very difficult to appreciate the people and gifts which shape our lives. If we lose the spirit of gratitude, the ability or awareness to say thanks, then a dangerous outlook can take hold of our lives.
In today’s world we expect so much, we demand everything yesterday. I don’t have patience myself. I feel frustrated when I’m asked to wait. However in our approach to personal relationships we still need to become aware of the need to be patient, understanding and compassionate.
Our expectations need to reflect a sense of gratitude for the people and the opportunities which shape our lives. When we appreciate the most important aspects our lives, when we admit a sense of humility and reverence for the people who come into our lives we become better people and more Christ-like in our approach.
How we treat and respect one another will fundamentally change if we begin to understand how we are blessed to be surrounded by family and friends. As a Christian community we have a massive responsibility to reach out and care for the vulnerable and lonely. When we at heart begin to appreciate the gifts in our lives, this enables us to reach out and to give thanks for the generosity and kindness of others.