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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Every Day Hospitality and Away From Her

Book

Every Day Hospitality: Simple Steps to Cultivating a Welcoming Heart by Thea Jarvis salutes this Christian virtue that offers the modern world an alternative to human division, isolation and enmity. She writes: “Hospitality is the social staff of life, a starting point for discourse and interaction. Even when we’re not conscious of its presence, hospitality stands by like a gracious host, discreetly ensuring friendly exchanges and peaceful outcomes. It’s background music to the human dance, an old song that still rings true.”

This virtue has always been important to indigenous cultures that recognize the value of being kind to strangers. Jarvis finds hospitality in the Bible in the actions of Abraham and Sarah, Jesus’ feeding the 5,000, the wedding feast at Cana and the many gatherings of the disciples after the resurrection. Today, hospitality has become an industry in the business world: Jarvis points to “lavish hotels, professional catering services, and exclusive vacation packages.” But these have little to do with the virtue that is “the outward expression of an inner attitude, a virtue that erupts from the heart, spilling out toward others.”

The author is inspired by the hospitality of Mother Teresa, Dorothy Day, Henri J.M. Nouwen and others. These Christians model for us the warmth and communal dimension of spirituality. Jarvis explores the five steps in practicing hospitality and concludes that as it brings blessings to many, it reflects our valiant efforts to make the world a better place (Ave Maria Press).

DVD

In Away From Her, Fiona and Grant have been married for 44 years and live in an isolated farmhouse in Ontario, Canada. They enjoy cross-country skiing and taking in the beauty of the natural world. But their life together in love is threatened by the looming clouds of Alzheimer’s disease. One evening Fiona puts the frying pan away in the refrigerator. At a dinner with friends, she reaches for a bottle but can’t remember the word “wine.” Later she says: “I think I’m beginning to disappear.” Grant wants to believe these memory lapses are a normal part of the aging process, but after Fiona loses track of where she is while skiing alone, she decides it’s time for her to enter Meadowlake, a residence facility for Alzheimer’s patients.

In one of the best films of 2007, writer and director Sarah Polley creatively adapted for the screen Canadian author Alice Munro’s short story “The Bear Came Over the Mountain.” Julie Christie gives an Academy Award-caliber performance as Fiona, and Gordon Pinsent is excellent as her devoted husband. This subtle and poignant drama deals with the nature of love in a long-lasting marriage and the important role memory plays in our lives. It also explores the many ramifications of dementia.” Away From Her is about the bonds that hold a couple together even when they face its challenges (Lionsgate, not rated).


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