by Sr. Ruth Percival MMM England 06.04.2022
When I was a child in the 1950s my family used to attend the local parish in Derby. One Sunday, we and the rest of the people were astonished to see two Nigerian men come in. We had not seen black people in Derby before.
After Mass, my Dad asked my Mum would we invite them to our house. Mum said, “of course”, and so Edmund and Anthony became frequent visitors, and even the bus driver would remind them of their stop. They wore beautiful, traditional dress and got to be known in our neighbourhood, especially at ball games. They were really good!
Edmund said he would pray that I would become a Reverend Sister one day and go to Nigeria! My parents kept in touch with Edmund until he died and then with Monica, his widow, until my Dad died.
This was my first learning about hospitality. It makes it more real when it is a value learnt at home and cherished by my parents. Hospitality, in my mind, conjures up feelings of safety, warmth and happiness. I remember my first meeting with MMM and how I felt “at home” in their presence.
On another occasion, my Dad was on the bus, coming home from work. He noticed an Oriental-looking man and he went and sat near him and started to talk to the gentleman. It turned out that he was from Japan, a hand surgeon who had come to Derby to study under a world-famous hand surgeon, Mr Pulvertaft.
Dad invited him home and he brought his wife with him. Dad took them down the garden to show them the different vegetables and fruit he grew. Mum watched them from the kitchen and said to me that, less than thirty years earlier, Dad had been fighting the Japanese in the stifling jungle of Burma, as it was known then. She marvelled at how, now, here they were, bending over the small plants, becoming friends.
Haruko, Hoko’s wife, would often go to be with our Mum to see our life and learn some English, a very interesting experience for both women, apparently accompanied by a lot of laughter!
Hospitality is a giving and a receiving, a lesson I was to learn many times during my life in Tanzania and among the Maasai people of Loolera. As our MMM Constitutions says: “Let there be a space in our hearts for others to be, so that, unafraid, they may experience themselves as loved and so be healed.”