Shavuot was eventful. We had a guest stay with us and I’ve always felt that there is no better way to learn more about the world than by sharing a house with a stranger for 48 hours. I’ve always been the type to love guests, but now having four kids I find that I tend to enjoy over night guests (sans a few very close friends) a little more hectic than enjoyable.
But I decided I needed to be adventurous in my hospitality and she needed a place to stay, and so I extended my invitation. It turned out to be a nice match. She was educated in the study of how to be a good house guest –quiet, respectful, helpful– and I enjoyed being rewarding for moving out of comfort zone.
People watching isn’t the same as stalking and I have to make that disclaimer because when I hear people use the phrase “people watching” I often wonder if they are just a glorified peeping Tom. Or you know, that old guy sitting on the bench watching teenaged girls pass by, not even bothering to hide his creepy manners. The real art of people watching allows you the chance to really observe human behaviour and interaction. It’s good for developing characters and story lines. It’s also great for personal reflection–you get to see a bit of you in every person that walks by.
Even better is when you get to spend time with over-night house guests. It’s one thing to have a friend to dinner, but once you’re shacked up together for a two day yontif (Jewish holiday), you can’t help but become a little more authentic. I mean really, nobody looks (or smells) all that great by the 38th hour, and by the 45th, everyone is ready to be done.
There is always something to be learned when entertaining house guests. Sometimes you learn you have a lot in common with the person. Sometimes you learn that you really don’t. And then you learn how to find patience and grace as those remaining hours suddenly seem to stretch before you like years to a prisoner. Sometimes you learn about new experiences, or how it feels to be someone else. Sometimes you learn how much you miss walking around in your pjs and slippers on early mornings.
This time, amongst other things, I learned how far I’ve come in my observance level and how worried I still feel on the inside that someone will only see how far I have left to go.
Both were good lessons for me.