Posted by: Walk.Build.Proclaim | September 6, 2013

Radical Hospitality

Last week I wrote a little bit about Benedict’s Rule 53, “treat every guest as though they are Christ”  This is also known as Radical Hospitality. This rule is lived out by Benedictine Monks all over the world! It’s meant for them to not see guests as a disruption in their lives and routines, but it’s meant to be a reminder that guests, no matter how many of them at one time, all have something to share with the hosts.

This was the case over the Labor Day weekend in Milwaukee, WI; actually not just in Milwaukee, but state wide people practiced radical hospitality with the nearly 100,000 Harley Riders that came to visit and celebrate the legend that is Harley Davidson.

There were block parties and factory tours and Bike Blessings. Surprisingly there were only six motorcycle with injury related accidents over the five days that Milwaukee played host to this party. People really watched out for their guests and made room for them on the road. The one common thread that made this five-day event so successful and so much fun was taking the time to meet new people and hear their stories.

My family and I decided we wanted to be part of the festivities without being at the heart of the festivities, so we took our kids to the Plant Tour in Menomonee Falls on Saturday morning. This is where we witnessed radical hospitality and the common bond of Harley Davidson first hand.

To go on the plant tour you needed to have close-toed — closed heal shoes. There were several people in line with flip-flops or other sandals. As one woman was trying to decide if she could make it to the local Walmart and still catch up with her group, a rider in line behind her said, “I have an extra pair of boots on my bike. Let me run and grab them and you can have my shoes for the tour. After all we’re coming out the same exit.”

This was just one example of hundreds of thousands of people that practiced radical hospitality.

As our family was standing in line we had the great fortune to talk to people that had come in from Dubuque, IA, Minneapolis, MN and Quebec City, Quebec Canada. It was great to hear how riders would find groups to ride with on the road. They’d share rations and directions with each other. I was amazed how much trust was put into the locals when asking for directions or suggestions or places to check out and places to avoid.

Having 100,000 Harley Davidson enthusiasts in town for five days could have been a challenge; instead, it was a wonderful event in which Wisconsinites got to share their love for their state, and share some radical hospitality with our guests.

Hats off you to you Milwaukee for being a wonderful host city for this event. Looking forward to the 115th!

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Gary Neal Hansen

Theology. It's good for you.

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