Hospitality

I was a stranger
And you welcomed me into your home
You bathed my feet and gave me food
You asked for my stories and listened, rapt
You asked questions and learned about me
Wanting to know all the wonders I’d seen

You understood my customs and respected them
You gave me kindness and a place to rest my head
I felt love for your society and this land I trod
That gave such friendship to a wanderer in need

You taught me how your society works
And I embraced your ways, wanted to emulate you
Repay the goodness you had shown me
I stayed for as long as I could, and we both thrived
But circumstances forced me to move on, so I did

 

I was a stranger
And you welcomed me with impatience
You told me how I was not needed or wanted
And you did not want to tolerate my presence
Appearances required that you make some effort
But your words and actions told me to leave

You mocked how I dress and how I look
How I speak and my respectful silences
My requests for compassion were met with derision
And you lampooned my every action back to me

You told me I was worthless in your eyes
Because I was not just like you
And when I wept at the ugliness you revealed to me
You mocked me for not being stronger
And cast me out of your home

 

I was a stranger
But you needn’t have worried; I was planning to leave
You learned nothing from me, and what I learned
Is how closed-minded and cruel your people are
How you value that cruelty, laud it as virtue
And jeer at those who might hope for compassion

You tried to convince me that I was worthless
Because you could not see my value
And I might have believed you, had I not met others
Who appreciate differences and embrace change
Who have class and culture worth sharing with the world

As I travel, I will remember their hospitality
I will praise it and be warmed by it on dark nights
I will forget your example of hatred
Because I do not agree that cruelty is how to live
It erodes from within, and makes the world a darker place

 

I was a stranger
No more powerless person is there in the world
A new kid at school, a new employee on the job
A traveler in a foreign land, an immigrant seeking a new home
Will find some places warm and bright and loving
And others full of bullies and cowards being ugly

 

I was a stranger
How does your home treat us?

 

Jamie Morris
November 20, 2015

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