Hospitality: On Tutus, Bad Websites and a Texas Table

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
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Still, yesterday I went to a ballet class. The walls were white, not that attractive. I found at least three spiders and a coin on the grey floor, sometime between feeling silly for pointing my leg in the totally wrong direction and standing completely still because I felt lost. But on Monday I plan to go back. Even though I was daydreaming that they should paint the place a nice shade of pale lemon. Even though spiders aren't my favorite companions. I am going back because the teacher was very kind and inspiring. She gave me physical space instead of taking hold of my foot and correcting me (I would have liked a little correction to ease my sense of feeling foolish, but I think she was being low-key to help me acclimate.) Also, when one quiet woman went to leave early, she stopped to say how courageous I'd been to come and told me I was going to be okay. So I will put up with the white walls, and I'm already dreaming about Monday. Contrast this with what happened after I got home. I decided that if I was going to keep up this crazy little endeavor I should buy some accoutrements. First stop, black leggings. Let me tell you right now, if you are a dancewear company on the web, you could have my business immediately if you made a more hospitable website than every last site I visited for an hour. I felt more lost on the websites than I felt during ballet class, but there was no one to smile and inspire or answer questions. So far, I am still legging-less and dreading the process of trying to purchase even this simple piece of clothing (not to mention maybe a cool top to go with it). Hospitality isn't nearly as simple as those leggings I want to buy. It's a give and take between the giver and the receiver. I think it looks both the same and different depending on context— online or off. The Organization that sponsors us here at HighCallingBlogs is serious about hospitality. I know. I've sat at their Laity Lodge Retreat Center dining room table. I've eaten the poppy seed cake (can't wait to have that again) and chatted with the kitchen staff. I've lazed on the river during free time, because they consider free time to be as important as their programming. Every year when I register to go (yes, like ballet class, I've been drawn to return), I look forward to hearing the sweet, helpful voice of Ann Jack. Online, it's hard to serve cake (though some have tried, right Cassandra?). But there are things we can do to be hospitable— everything from how we interact to how we structure and design our site. Maybe you could tell us how it's going. What makes it easy (or hard) to sit at the HCB table? What keeps you coming back (or not)? We want to be pointing our toes in the right direction, though we can't promise we'll wear a tutu if you ask. Oh, and here's a paint can if you'll be needing it... Post and photo by L.L. Barkat, author of God in the Yard: Spiritual Practice for the Rest of Us.

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