My tween daughter, Lizzie, is a fearless befriender. On the beach. In the airport. On the playground. If we are in a public space for any length of time, she is on the lookout for girls near her age. I’ve marveled at her boldness as she approaches girls she has never met with a confidence and ease I’ve never felt, despite being almost thirty years her senior.
Her conversations naturally turn into activity, and the newly minted friends are soon building sandcastles, jumping around on tide pool rocks as they look for tiny ocean critters, or pretending to be foxes on the playground equipment—there is no end to the creativity I’ve watched play out in these shared spaces.
Lizzie has discovered the joy in temporary companionship, in inviting others to join, even though the likelihood of paths ever crossing again is between slim and none. She has the gift of hospitality, of putting others at ease and allowing them to belong, even if the belonging is fleeting and the community is only the two of them. I recognize this as practice, as skill building, as a training ground for when she has a home of her own to invite others into.
My daughter’s befriending has also been an example I’ve started emulating. I now strike up conversations on subways while traveling and compliment strangers while we stand in the checkout line, realizing that Lizzie has it figured out. Hospitality comes in many forms, and we don’t need to make it more formal or more complicated than it really is. We are to invite others into our sphere and into our life in the passing, temporary places just as we are to be inviting people into our homes and into our more permanent life spaces. And, truly, often our short-term hospitality leads to more permanent invitations to enter our homes and lives when our lives draw close in proximity.
Today’s act of friendship:
Start practicing temporary hospitality in all the spaces you find yourself, not worrying about whether or not your paths have crossed for the moment or on a more permanent basis.