Tuesday, September 12, 2006

A Parable of Hospitality

by Paschal Baute, 2006

Once there was a chef who had acquired some art and experience in gourmet cooking. He decided to use his talent to prepare a feast for a group of friends he loved. This particular group of friends were also chefs. He spent much time planning and preparing for the occasion. Finally the feast was ready. The response was quite diverse.

One guest came late and missed the appetizers and initial entrees. Another could not get past his dislike of the seating arrangements.
One thought some dishes were seasoned too much & others too little. Another thought his combination of dishes & the wine were poorly chosen.
One got into an argument with another guest and made everyone uncomfortable
Another had an excuse to leave early just after the main dish was consumed.
One thought none of the prepared dishes were really very original. Another was so critical of the appetizer that it spoiled the entire meal for her..
One thought at the end that she could have done much better. Another thought the table and room were not appropriately decorated.
One thought the food was okay but the host's manners were not quite up to par. . Another was so distracted by the table manners of the person sitting across from him that he could not enjoy the food.
One guest was so tired from a very full day of activities that she dozed several times during the after dinner conversation. Another guest was a relative of the host who didn't really want to come but thought it wouldn't 1ook good if he was not present. For him the banquet was barely tolerable.
One who graduated from a different culinary Institute was so busy comparing the host's cooking with her own--unfavorably of course, that she could not even fake any appreciation.

But there was one guest present who enjoyed each dish and appreciatively commented upon each aspect of the banquet, showing sincere appreciation for a brother chef's hospitality..
The host knew nothing of most of these reactions until much later. At the time he was only puzzled that so many of his guests seemed without the joviality customary to their casual meetings.

Later the host chef wondered if going to such effort in entertaining friends was really worth it. But he decided the joy of sharing his art with others plus having one guest truly appreciate his efforts made it worthwhile. In fact, he did this hosting for twenty years and had much joy in the sharing.

Then one day he realized that there was no genuine reciprocity. No guest who accepted his welcoming hospitality ever invited him back to a dinner they prepared. Yet they were quite willing to keep coming to share his generosity. Finally giving up on his fellow chefs, he took his talents and love of sharing to an entirely different group of persons. He was glad he did. He discovered others to be more appreciative of his love of sharing.

A Parable of Hospitality
© Paschal Baute, 1980, revised 2006