Hospitality of Mind, Heart, and Place

Dami Animashaun at a farm salon. Photo taken by the author.

Dami Animashaun at a farm salon. Photo taken by the author.

Hospitality of Mind, Heart, and Place

Each month, the MindKind Institute and prime produce set a challenge for their communities: to cultivate a weekend-long haven where unlike minds with like hearts can gather, dine, share, reflect, and collaborate.

We call these gatherings farm salons, partly because they’ve taken place for the last 24 months on the lands of Bluestone Farm, and partly because they contribute to the recent revival of salon-style conversation by using a selected discussion topic to anchor deep inquiry and self-reflection.

Farm salon guests are friends, collaborators, acquaintances and strangers nominated by salon hosts or previous attendees to give to and gain from one of eight weekend fellowship spots. Past weekend fellows represent a broad swath of ages and professions. Fundamentally, everyone shares a common curiosity and a desire to ask beautifully better questions in their quest to live meaningful lives.

Over the last two years, some master themes have started to coalesce from our conversations. These include service, sacrifice, resilience, community, commitment, beauty, and craft. The themes, and the overall experience of retreat and contemplation the farm salons create, have been possible because of the generous spirit of hospitality expressed by the sisters of the Community of the Holy Spirit and the permanent residents and scholars living at St Aidan's Haven. They have shown openness by matching their hospitality of place with an equally energetic hospitality of mind and hospitality of heart.

Not surprisingly, this hospitable spirit is infectious. Guests of the farm salons have brought their weekend fellowship experiences back to the city, incorporating or enhancing the practices of tripartite hospitality in their daily routines. This is how.

Interested in participating in this experience? Check MindKind's events page for upcoming salons. 

 

Hospitality of place... reminds us of the basic requirements of our bodies. We need nourishment. We need shelter. We benefit when we receive these things in communion with others. It is rewarding to contribute to our own nourishment and shelter through place-making, growing, interacting with the materials of nature. In practice, this type of hospitality is exercised when we open doors to our homes, share food, undertake shared projects and chores, and keep a place of sanctuary warm for anyone who happens to need it.

Hospitality of mind... acknowledges the importance of crafting moments for deep listening. Similar to a dinner host setting a table for guests – a process of preparation and place-making – our minds require space to allow the ideas and experiences of others to linger within us. The place-settings matter - we cannot serve soup on a flat plate! Creating space for ideas and sharing requires attentiveness to frameworks. How are people communicating? What questions will enable cross-over to different communication styles? What questions will reveal better questions - ones that enrich an environment for the sharing of ideas?

Hospitality of heart... starts with love and the question: how do we give and receive affection? Expressing love completes place-making and question-asking. For example, the practice of sharing and toasting gratitudes allows people to introduce each other by recognizing experiences, things, people we love. Massage - a spontaneously instigated activity of farm salons - also allows us to meaningfully touch each other.

The love expressed through gratitude and touch creates a more intimate setting for celebration and critique because we start from a shared aspiration to cultivate love-filled relationships. These relationships are not based on Hollywood love, the perfectly finished product representing an ending to some romantically defined struggle. It's ancient love, or spiritually rooted agape, which creates ever-iterating processes that are dynamic and generative.

 

Over the course of two years, these strands of hospitality have become more defined.

Traditionally, hospitality has been a catch-all term for openness of place, mind, and heart. It described the virtue of a host to provide solace to a weary stranger seeking refuge. Our current life experiences challenge our practice of place-making by stretching our relationships beyond our immediate neighborhoods and our immediate moments.

In this world, it's possible for farm salon guests to have more in common experientially with each other, even if they attended different salons, than they do with their actual, apartment-bound neighbors. In these cases, how can a hospitality of mind and a hospitality of heart be practiced beyond place? How can new places be created through these practices? How can old places be re-energized by them?

How do you practice hospitality of place, hospitality of mind, and hospitality of heart?

If you have been to a farm salon, how did these practices manifest for you? Did you recognize them?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts and seeing you soon at a future farm salon!

Your Prime Mate,

Chris Chavez


prime patronus  |  @mr_tumnus  |  ccc@primeproduce.org