Like xenophobia, xenodochiality comes from the Greek ξένος, or xenos, meaning stranger. Xenodochiality is a kind of hospitality, something like Blanche’s “kindness of strangers.” Since I’m not Hellenic, it’s not an immediately pagan choice, but (a) x words are hard to come by and (b) the concept is relevant.
I did say I would talk a little more about what Mara asks of me, after all, and one of the things she asks is that I try to be that kind stranger. Aside from traditional giving through larger charities like Heifer International, the Hero Initiative, or Goodwill, there are lots of individuals who need help. These are the Chip-Ins and Indigogo fundraisers you see on your Facebook friends list, the families you hear about on the news that have an account in their name started at a local bank after a tragedy, and even the guy on the corner with a cardboard sign.
Nobody can give to everyone, but in these kinds of situations, a little bit goes a long way. They can help a someone recover from a fire, avoid eviction, pay medical bills, find foster care for a pet or care for a sick animal.
Being a goddess of wealth, amongst other things, Mara overseas the flow of money. She helps me when I need it to come in, and she nudges me to let me know which direction to send it back out again. Sometimes it’s the $5 I have to spare to someone on the internet, and sometimes it’s the dollar in my pocket to the guy with the sign or the guitar. There’s no perfect solution, but I believe doing this helps create a world where people are more likely to get what they need. I think that’s important.
There was a time when a wanderer was welcomed in and fed. There have always been edicts from gods telling their followers to care for those poorer than them. I don’t have a lot, but I have more than some people. I view it as my responsibility to them and to the gods I serve to pass on what I can.