Ibulliance: How to Welcome a Stranger

Nawal pours mint tea from a teapot 30 inches above a tinkling cup. Meryanne floats rose petals in a gurgling fountain and spreads carpets in the garden for a guest's arrival. Wafae serves platters of couscous and a plump roasted chicken at the table to share. If you're a rogue desert traveler in need of water and food, I hope you are lucky enough to be roaming through Morocco where the sacred rituals of hospitality insist a stranger be welcomed in without a hint of distrust, and served the best the household can offer.

When I was a twenty-eight year old traveling the world alone, I was the stranger taken in to homes, into conversation, families, meals, put up on sofas—with a generosity of spirit that surprised and humbled me. After a year of wandering, I returned to the United States and made a commitment to pay it forward. I wanted to be not only guest, but host, to welcome the stranger, to make of my home a crossroads where the world meets itself in a place of love and understanding.

The word, hospitality, comes from a Latin word, hospes, which means guest, sojourner, foreigner, but also host. So, in this equation, the server and served are bound in a ritual of trust and kindness. This life experience of being both host and guest at the world table—this is Ibu.

Because the beauty of hospitality is in the details—the scents, flavors, warmth, spirits—it might seem trifling next to peace talks among world leaders. But I think not. Small occasions of generosity between people who start out as strangers and end up friends—this is where world peace actually begins. This is where hearts are changed. Over couscous. Around a fire. 

So it my joy to be hosting our amazing Moroccan partners—Meryanne, Nawal, and Wafae who have so often been host to me—for A Night in the Medina on March 6 when we can return their generosity and complete the circle. It is even more powerful as a community doing so—consider it a festive invocation of peace. I hope you'll join me in this high moment here—or pay it forward in your own way wherever in this world you find yourself. Being host is an act of grace. The stranger is, perhaps, that angel in disguise.

All the best,