An extension of my love for cooking is a joy in offering hospitality. There is a feast of pleasure in showing care to others by welcoming them into our home and nourishing them with food made by my hands. Gathering in a place of comfort, enjoying the gifts of flavor and sustenance, and sharing conversation, laughter and fellowship around a table together - these are gifts of grace.
And infertility has partially robbed me of the chance to offer and enjoy those gifts. It is a strange plundering. Who would think that the inability to conceive would result in the lack of opportunities to show hospitality? A minor grievance, to be sure, but I do miss - sometimes with poignant pangs - the simple joy of having friends over for a meal. You see, because we don't have children, we are the mobile, flexible ones. That means that when we have dinner with friends, we go to them. I honestly can't remember the last time we had a married couple or family to our home for a meal. We've invited, but the invitation always ends up getting turned around for reasons of infant sleep habits or babysitting or something along those lines. And I understand; really, I do. I don't mean this as an indictment of any of our friends with children. It truly does make more sense, when we spend time together with other couples, for us to go to their homes and so prevent a lot of hassle. But every time we drive to have dinner with our married friends, I feel a tiny sorrow over yet one more loss inflicted by infertility.
Hospitality is service. I don't want to have people come to our home so that I can impress or entertain them; that's stressful, not fun. The joy of hospitality comes in using skills and gifts to serve our friends. What serves our friends most now is not to have them in our home, but for us to go to them with the flexibility that we didn't choose but nevertheless have in our childless state. The best way, it seems, for me to exercise hospitality currently is to get out of the house.