“Frodo was now safe in the Last Homely House east of the Sea. That house was, as Bilbo had long ago reported, ‘a perfect house, whether you like food or sleep, or story-telling or singing, or just sitting and thinking best, or a pleasant mixture of them all.’ Merely to be there was a cure for weariness, fear and sadness.”
The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
This quote from The Lord of the Rings made me teary-eyed the first time I read it. I was newly married and brand new at keeping house on my own. We had literally almost killed our first dinner guest (that’s a GREAT story for another day), and I could barely make food for Matthew and me before falling asleep every night. (You have to understand that it took me about two hours to make a dinner for two people those first few months!) The finer points of homemaking and hospitality seemed like an unreachable dream.
The welcoming home of the Elves at Rivendell that Tolkien wrote about became my goal. Someday I wanted that to be said of my home: “merely being at the Miller’s is a cure for weariness, fear, and sadness.”
Thankfully, Matthew and I share many of the same passions and desires, and offering our home as a place of rest is deeply important to both of us. He has been right with me as we’ve worked to find our hospitality groove.
At some point during our first year of marriage, we realized that we enjoy not only short-term hospitality (dinners, birthday parties, movie nights) but also long-term hospitality (having “houseguests”). Knowing that not every household enjoys that prospect, but that it’s a very real need, we’ve embraced this as a particular mission of ours.
The same imagery from Lord of the Rings that encouraged me also inspired me with a Big Idea. What I love about the Last Homely House is the way it serves as a crossroad for people from many places and walks of life to meet, share stories, and rest together. Some travelers stay for a few days, some for weeks, and some (like Bilbo) just sort of move in. Someday, Matthew and I hope to create a bed and breakfast-type haven – and not necessarily for profit. We just love the idea of opening our home to friends and strangers alike who need a respite.
That’s probably down the road a good 20 years. But keeping it in mind, we’ve taken on a lot of practice! We’ve enjoyed some long-awaited visits from old friends who have flown and driven to our home from various parts of the country. We had a friend visit for a weekend right after we moved to Rhode Island, and she was willing to sleep on an air mattress in the midst of our boxes. My brother, who goes to college three hours away, is always bringing stray friends with him when he comes (and wow, do those guys eat a LOT!). Just recently, one of Matthew’s friends stayed with us for a MONTH while his new apartment was being renovated – and we loved it!
I recently recognized that I actually PREFER the longer visits over short events. A houseguest for a week is way less stressful for me than preparing to have someone over for dinner. I think it’s because I want the house to be perfect for those people I’m just getting to know; some weird need to impress everyone, I guess. But when people come for even a weekend, they fit into the flow of our family life and I no longer feel bad if they see me leaving dishes in the sink or hanging clothes to dry in the dining room.
I think I need to stop trying for “a perfect house.” But I am going to keep working toward making it a place for “food or sleep, or story-telling or singing, or just sitting and thinking…or a pleasant mixture of them all.”
- Hospitality Blog Application
- Miller, Miller & Miller Bed and Breakfast
- Recuperating from Hospitality Overload