“Those who show hospitality grow richer, not poorer. Whoever gives, receives in return.”

– Pope Francis

At least as of age 42, I continue to have a very thick head of hair. It grows like a weed and could easily be cut every two weeks if I had the time. I’m not complaining by any means, but my follicle ferocity does necessitate having a good go-to spot for a trim. When we moved into our current neighborhood, several friends and family encouraged us to go to “Ms. Melissa.” She is a one-woman machine whose small salon is always bumping. In fact, she’s so popular that I don’t even think she takes new customers anymore. She’s reasonably priced, does a very nice job, and can handle the whole family in a single visit, while somehow simultaneously coloring and curling someone else’s hair. But none of that is what makes her special.

While she multitasks from open to close, she is constantly connecting. She introduces everyone who walks into her salon to whoever else is sitting in her salon at the time. Not only that, but as she sweeps or styles or snips, she makes a tie between you and this stranger who just walked in. “This is Dan, he’s related to Kerri who you know from the parish.” Given how the business grew, many times it’s a simple family or Church tie. But often it goes deeper. On my last cut, she connected our son Peter to a young lady who had driven all the way from New Jersey to visit Ms. Melissa. “You both love Carlo Acutis – are you so excited he’s being canonized?” What ensued almost instantly was a beautiful conversation between my 10-year-old son and this young professional about Carlo Acutis and the Eucharist that lasted for as long as we were there.

As I sat in the chair and Ms. Melissa shaped and styled, I couldn’t help but think how often we highlight the charism of hospitality as an essential ingredient in our parishes. So often we compartmentalize it as having greeters or committees, giving out donuts or having name tags. But at its deepest, authentic hospitality is what happens every time you walk into Ms. Melissa’s salon. You are known and your story is linked to the stories of others - and almost instantly, there is community. Some may say, “that’s just Melissa.” Regardless of whether it’s a natural gift or a learned one, it’s a gift all the same. It’s a gift to be able to ask others about life and to listen to the answer; to remember what was shared the last time they sat in your chair and to remember to ask about it the next time; to seek to find, even if it’s a stretch, the way that two strangers might be closer than they think.

My haircuts probably would be quicker at the Great Clips down the road, but as I listened to two young people talk about the Eucharist in a salon on a Saturday morning, I figured going to Ms. Melissa’s was well worth the wait. During our quest to trim the dead ends and inefficiencies in life, let’s make sure we don’t lose in our busyness the opportunity to welcome others to sit in our chair and tell us their stories. May we, like Melissa, be people who are never a few degrees away from each other and from the Lord.

by Daniel Cellucci

June 24, 2024

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