Hospitality doesn’t depend on having a fancy house or matching silverware or perfectly clean floors. Hospitality isn’t something to postpone til after you dust the furniture or get a big enough dining-table. Hospitality is simply extending your heart and receiving someone as an honored guest. Whether you live in a mansion or a trailer park or a shed or garage, or even if you don’t have a roof over your head at all, your hospitality is a unique blessing that only YOU can offer. At my tiny trailer-home in an urban RV park under the oaks in south Austin, I hosted tea-parties and cocktail soirees and late-night kaffeeklatsches and slumber-parties, and was blessed with hundreds or maybe even a thousand guests over the 10 years I lived there.

I’ve dined with millionaires and kings (well, the United Statesian version), and have stayed in the richest palaces — and yet, possibly the most heartfelt, generous hospitality I ever received was a drink of coffee in a styrofoam cup! The man who shared it with me lived on his sailboat. He had only one cup, but he offered it to me, a stranger on the beach. (This was back around 2004 in south Florida; I was on one of many trips to “find myself”.) Our conversation started casually, but it quickly left the safe shallows and plunged into the offshore depths. The leather-skinned stranger spoke of sailing over to Africa as casually as many folks talk about driving to WalMart. We sat on the edge of a pier, but I felt as though he had sat me down on a plush velvet sofa in front of a 12-foot-wide, 3D television with surround-sound, the better to treat me to the breathtaking footage of his life.

So no, don’t wait til after your house (or trailer, or garage, or car, or bench) is perfectly clean to have people over. (Psst: Re. “perfectly clean” — that’s never gonna happen.) Ask that friend or stranger you’ve been meaning to invite; don’t count too much on “someday”.)

Honestly, I think the deepest and biggest form of hospitality is simply a smile, and a listening heart.