Returning from a family vacation a couple of summers back in Colorado, my brother Whitney and I drove into Boulder, returned the rental car, etc., and checked into the Holiday Inn there near the airport. The staff was friendly and the place nice enough, but the one thing I will always remember about the stay was finding a poem in our room. And not only finding it there, printed on a laminated card, but really being moved by it. I don’t know which caught me more by surprise, but there it was.
Its message surprised and delighted me, and somehow touched me. In today’s America especially travel often seems inherently a “tensing” thing, and I found myself melting just a little. For the last couple of weeks the Prayer/ Poem has kept popping back into my mind, and refusing to let go. So I finally sat down yesterday and Googled it, and first found it quoted in a web site by “Jenne Ink,” a talented and spirited writer journaling online about her experience of cancer. She had come across the message at the Courtyard Inn in Oklahoma City
( jenneink.blogs.com/jennethink/2007/07/stranger-within.html ).
In skimming only the first few other postings I saw that any number of travelers had also encountered the Prayer in all kinds of hotels across the Country (one in Williamsburg, Kentucky at the Cumberland Inn, another the Embassy Suites in St. Charles, Missouri (near St. Louis), etc., etc.) and thought enough of it to post their experiences. It had been the subject of discussion on one forum of the Great Western Hotel chain. The prayer and its message also showed up on web sites for alternative lodgings, been adapted as well for churches, etc.
So quite obviously it hadn’t been just me; here was a message with a power of its own, that all kinds of people in all kinds of places were thirsty to receive. Now seems the time.
And so I share it here, its wonderfully simple language changed only a bit. (I must say, I love it that both of our properties share a common Garden Gate, so the prayer seems a propos in a particular and special way.)
In ancient times there was a prayer for “The Stranger within our gates.”
You are here because you have accepted our invitation to hospitality, and we are grateful and glad. Hosts among the Inuit people, sometimes called the Eskimo, customarily greet their guests with this heartfelt acknowledgment: “You bless our Home with your presence.” May you experience peace, rest, and a promise of refreshment while you are here.
May this humble home and its gardens be your “second” home. May those you love be near you in thoughts and dreams. Even though we may not get to know you, we hope that you will be comfortable and happy as if you were in your own house. Or even happier, and happier still to return at last to your own bed.
May the business that brought you our way prosper. May every call you make and every message you receive add to your joy. When you leave, may your journey be safe.
We are all travelers. From “birth till death” we travel between the eternities. May these days be pleasant for you, profitable for society, helpful for those you meet, and a joy to those who know and love you best.
and by night.