• Reflective Resources

X is for Xenodochy

Updated: Apr 15

True hospitality is welcoming the stranger on her own terms. This kind of hospitality can only be offered by those who've found the centre of their lives in their own hearts”.

Henri Nouwen As you might imagine it is becoming increasingly difficult to find positive words that start with ‘X’ to not break the alphabetical series but I stumbled upon a word which is particularly pertinent in the current xenophobic climate (another x word) ... ‘xenodochy’.


Xenodochy is about having an attitude of kindness towards strangers and defined in various sources as extending hospitality to strangers or foreigners as opposed to Xenophobia which comes from an irrational and unreasoned fear. (The origin of Xenophobia comes from the Greek for “fear,” “phobos” and the Greek for “stranger,” “xenos.”)


Hospitality is a multi-faceted asset and encompasses multiple strengths, virtues and values particularly when aiming to build an inclusive community. By offering genuine hospitality to everyone, stranger and guest alike, with genuine warmth we are able to span cultural divides and transcend backgrounds and nationality.


Hospitality is the key to new ideas, new friends, new possibilities. What we take into our lives changes us. Without new people and new ideas, we are imprisoned inside ourselves.”

Joan D Chittister


By consciously being authentically hospitable, it re-orientates us and redefines our relationships with others revealing different perspectives about the importance and cohesiveness for mankind and is imperative for the health and well-being of all.


Building communities with intention, through acceptance and understanding help connect us in meaningful ways, and seek to redress the balance of the worrying trend in societal norms based on fear and mis-information leading to mis-guided attitudes towards immigration, Europe etc.


An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity”.

Martin Luther King, Jr


We are living in extraordinary times, and our deepest fears are being uncovered and manipulated. By consciously practising an attitude of xenodochy we are able to create a completely different environment; learning acceptance, celebrating differences, cooperating and cohabiting peacefully, altering unhealthy attitudes and building better, stronger communities that are rich in diversity and based on love where everyone is equal and accepted.


Neuroscience has proven that the human nervous system responds positively to those characteristics inherent within hospitality. Evidence shows that new pathways to higher functioning are simultaneously created – the brain actually lights up, creating a sense of euphoria.


To be truly effective, xenodochy must be based on mutual respect, the ethics of reciprocity, and friendly, interdependent co-operation in order to help gain trust, confidence in relationships and build thriving and sustainable communities, where individuals work with each other for the common good.


Xenodochy is simply an opportunity to show that you love and acceptance


When we listen and celebrate what is both common and different, we become wiser and more inclusive” Pat Wadors


Some questions to think about/or discuss below:


Where are you on the xenodochy – xenophobia scale?


Are you conscious of those in need in your close circle or the wider community?


How can you be an active participant in building a better world for all?


If you want to explore this subject further, here is a link to get you started:


https://charterforcompassion.org/promoting-hospitality-as-a-way-of-life


It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences”. Audre Lorde


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