In the 23 years at my monastery one of my jobs was acting as the Guestmaster on behalf of the Brotherhood for 18 of those years. I would schedule guests and give them a two-hour tour if they had never before visited the monastery. I would also watch out for their well-being while with us, frequently checking with them to see if they needed anything and to try and get a “reading” of their visit. So many visitors to the monastery came because of their interest in our German Shepherd dogs and not necessarily with an interest in spirituality or the monastery’s exquisite liturgical life.
Guests are a lot of work for their hosts and… dare I say it… even a pain in the butt at times! Guests are “on vacation” while their hosts are trying to get on with living and earning a living. Having been a Guestmaster for so long makes me acutely aware of being a good guest when in someone else’s home, like that of Hawaii. It makes me wonder about the Hawaiian “take” on guests aside from the official one of “Aloha for all”. I am certain there are guests who do not add to the Hawaiian culture because of their behavior. Others come with an attitude of “being here but not OF here” and who have no intention of being other than the unhappy people that they are at home!
Thus Hawaiians trying to earn a living in stores, tour buses and hotels have to endure rude, demanding and demeaning tourists who act like the British in India so long ago with every intention of living as if they were still at home and of treating the locals as servants. I have been a visitor in Hawaii’s home five exquisite times and have had nothing but Aloha bestowed and breathed upon me! Knowing how much work it takes to be a host… I am sincerely and deeply grateful!