Inner Hospitality and Snoopy Too

by | Mar 23, 2024 | Christine Hall's Blog, Front Page Featured

DO YOU REMEMBER WHAT IT’S LIKE TO BE WELCOMED with arms wide and a grin from someone who loves you? That enthusiastic hospitality warms the heart, whether you’ve been apart a decade or a few days.

Teaching about spiritual growth, I encourage the practice of inner hospitality. While different than welcoming friends for dinner, it’s intriguing to explore the overlap. Hospitality in our outward actions means a warm greeting, kindness, attentiveness to someone’s needs, listening and responding with compassion.

  • What if we could do that for our inner lives and all the facets of ourselves?


Why Get Hospitable About You?

There are parts of myself toward which I’ve been less than “hospitable,” parts I’ve dreaded facing, like house cleaning for guests. Avoidance hasn’t worked. Willpower hasn’t made things much better. The last ten years are teaching me a better way.

We need inner hospitality for healthy integration of body, mind, and emotions that help us grow in spirit. Inner hospitality suggests we ease up on self-judgement of our best and worst. We’re all a mix; the point is to get on with growing.

Inner hospitality helps us see our strengths and weaknesses with spiritual eyes, a loving God-perspective. We are better able to collaborate with a divine Healer, who helps us grow toward who we could be, beyond our entrenched personality patterns and blind spots. We learn how to tend our own reactivity and live more centered lives.

Gentle, open-hearted attention to our interior condition enlarges our capacity for inner observation. That’s a core skill in the contemplative practice of Centering Prayer. Master teachers say that a healthy Inner Observer opens the door for powerful shifts in our very consciousness. It can be a joyous adventure!


More Inner Hospitality

Please be gentle with yourself as you try more inner hospitality. I’m not talking about paying more attention to your harshest inner voices. If part of you is watching and criticizing or condemning yourself, your inner life can become toxic. Those messages can tangle anyone into knots of anxiety, shame, or anger. Many of us are all too familiar with our inner “shoulds” and “ought to’s.”

When I started turning inward this way, I needed patience. I had to sidestep messages I’d absorbed like a sponge from the culture around me: There’s nothing in there worth the attention; or this is selfish, useless naval-gazing. Plus there was a lot I didn’t like about myself. I recognized I was scared. I resisted looking within because I expected confirmation of my worst qualities. That’s not what happened.

Some imagery can help: Imagine the parts of your being like an inner community. Create your own inner table where all the parts can gather round like characters—body, mind, emotions, inner child, inner parent, inner adult, will, spirit/soul… You can name your own inner community members. As you explore the scene, notice the condition of each character. How do they look? What do they say? How do they get along? Who gets the most airtime, and have any have been neglected or even silenced?

In truth, they all belong. We can welcome them all with attentive hospitality. They can learn to make decisions together about what to do, sorting Divine Guidance in a kind of group discernment within us. Every part of you needs a voice. Every voice needs to be heard and honored by the others, because the Holy may speak through any of them.

Growing inner hospitality means practicing care and even gratitude for whatever rises to awareness. It means noticing if parts of me are overachieving, or bullying the rest of me in directions that aren’t life-giving. It means wondering about facets of myself I’ve neglected, asking what they need. It means forgiving myself for how I’ve mistreated parts of who I am. This is how I befriend my inner life, even the hard parts.

Now as I turn inward with more ease and kindness, I’m practicing prayer for my own wholeness and healing. If I find something challenging, I sometimes imagine the Holy Presence standing behind that hurting part, hands on its shoulders. I welcome what the Spirit wants to do with me there. So I’ve learned to rely more on the presence and compassion of God with the reality of my condition.


From Space Out to a Happy Dance

One of the stranger things I’ve noticed over years practicing inner hospitality is my own interior soundtrack. Certain tunes can signal my condition even when I’m not paying attention: Mission Impossible starts up when I’ve got a hard task ahead but I’m feeling determined to forge on. The Death Star Theme from Star Wars signals heavy dread about something. Caution!

Another tune plays in my head maybe half a dozen times a day, but until recently I couldn’t say why. It seemed harmless enough, so I’d settled on it as an odd personal theme song: “Fly me to the moon, and let me sail among the stars…” I’m really not old enough for Frank Sinatra, but there it is, pretty mellow and easy.

Then this winter, I’ve been trying to be more engaged in the now of my life. I wanted to see how I might be under valuing the present moment, so I asked the Spirit to show me…

Here’s where inner hospitality matters: A day or so later, I was walking to lunch and THAT SONG started up—the harmless, easygoing one: Fly me to the moon… I noticed and wondered,“What’s up with me right now?” Then I burst out laughing.

I was in between things, relaxed and absent-minded. I was “spacing out” with a soundtrack-escape-hatch literally off the planet! Through the following days, I noticed that song also cued up when I had a chore to do (dishes, laundry), and would rather not be there, really. It was how I just got on with a task when I was bored with an ordinary bit of the day. I became dreamy or unfocused. It wasn’t unpleasant, but it wasn’t PRESENT either.

Another day, I asked Spirit for help with a replacement song: If not, “Fly me…”, then what? I considered some of the Taize chants I like, but they seemed rather gloomy. My smart watch display offered the answer with an option that makes me grin: Every time I lift my wrist, Snoopy appears on the tiny screen doing any of dozens of goofy things, including a signature happy dance.

Snoopy Watchface

So now whenever the inner, “Fly me to the moon…” starts up, I can smile and pivot to the Peanuts theme. It’s jaunty and childlike. Kids are very present in the moment, looking for the fun (unless you’re a Lucy). A wise teacher once said, “Become like little children…” When I’m just not feeling a bouncy-Snoopy vibe, I transition to a musical prayer with the Taize tune: “Take O take me as I am. Summon out what I shall be. Set Your seal upon my heart, and live in me.”

It’s a small example, and I don’t know where it will lead. I do trust that being fully attentive to the immediate moment offers more opportunities for engaging with life, even in the dull transitions or necessary chores. I’m looking for more lighthearted pleasure in the ordinary activities, less inner fogginess of mind and heart. I can turn to gratitude.

That’s how I welcome my inner life with hospitality. It’s a practical way I make myself more available for the Spirit’s guidance or “nudges” into action.


  • What’s your relationship to your inner life? How could it be more hospitable?