The world is in crying need of the ancient value of hospitality, a value that is found in cultures throughout the world, and yet so absent in much of the modern world. In my Celtic tradition it is a core value, and is historically witnessed in the person of the Irish briugu, the hosteller. In medieval Irish society the briugu was usually a prosperous farmer, some of whose prosperity was funneled to a larger good, that is providing hospitality for those who were traveling beyond the abodes of kin. Hostels were also maintained by member of the skilled professions who had received wealth due to their services, wealth some of which then got spread around. One of their most important possessions was their cauldron. The briugu was not part of military obligations and their hostels were places of the exchange of much news and information, thus providing another function important to the rural society. The hostels are an important setting in the lore, unsurprisingly, with tales like Togail Bruidne Dá Derga (The Destruction of Da Derga’s Hostel)*.
We live in a time when movement of peoples is global in nature, many people are on the roads, and many are those desperately in need of the most basic hospitality, a place to shelter from the storms of war and horror. Perhaps hearts must open before doors can, as many in this land seem to have closed hearts. May we find again the value of hospitality, and find ourselves better off for doing so.
*They were sometimes seen as being in the Otherworld or at least liminal. Interestingly, in modern Irish the term can refer to a fairy dwelling.