As a child, my family spent many summer vacations at Myrtle Beach. It was there in coastal South Carolina, that my Mother fell in love with the hibiscus plant.
Tropical hibiscus plants are not native to the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. However, after returning home from South Carolina, Dad surprised Mom with the hardy hibiscus variety. Forty-four years later, crimson, champagne pink and white blooms with a distinct red eye, add a South Carolina tropical flare to my parent’s back yard.
One day I surveyed the streets surrounding my parent’s house. I was amazed at all the hibiscus plants I observed.
“Mom, I see beautiful flowering hibiscus plants in many of the yards here. Did you have anything to do with that?”
Mom’s laugh lines deepened, her grin served as her response.
“Seriously mom, even several streets away from your house, I see hibiscus plants.”
With a glint in her eye, mom replied, “Your Dad and I share our hibiscus plants with new neighbors, old neighbors, when someone is sick, or anyone who walks by. One day, your Dad saw Miss Helen out walking and asked her is she wanted a hibiscus. Miss Helen said, “Do I want a hot biscuit?” Laughing Dad repeated, “Do you want a hibiscus plant?”
Miss Helen received a few hibiscus plants and she and Dad still joke about having a hot biscuit.
I counted over twenty yards with the beautiful hardy hibiscus plants, gifted by my parents. Some yards have all three varieties of color.
Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it! Hebrews 13:2, NLT
Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:9-10
Practice hospitality. Romans 12:13
Showing, offering, and practicing hospitality are my parent’s love languages—their gifts. Mom and Dad serve as extra grandparents to the neighboring kids. Dad repairs bikes and scooters and helps to build pine wood derby cars. Meanwhile, Mom is in the kitchen, cooking a meal, restocking the cookie jar or restocking the freezer with popsicles—sharing whatever they have with others.
Just as the tropical hibiscus plants are not native to the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Kindness, hospitality, generosity, sympathy, and compassion are also no longer native to our of our culture. By replanting these diminishing character traits we can begin to replenish our communities.
My parents have lived in the same home for forty-four years. They have planted hospitality for decades and have the unique advantage to see how their hospitality has blossomed over the years.
Sometimes we plants seeds of hospitality, seeds of kindness, seeds of compassion and we don’t remain in the area long enough to see it come to fruition. But whether we stay planted in one neighborhood for a lifetime or move frequently we can practice hospitality right where we’re planted.
How can we show, offer, and practice hospitality with those around us?
~April Dawn White © 2017 All Rights Reserved
Red Chair Moments, on location at my parents’ house.