The first time we meet Molly Weasley in the Harry Potter books, she welcomes the stranger. At King's Cross Station, she patiently teaches Harry the trick of finding Platform Nine and Three-Quarters, not because she knows he's famous -- she has no idea who the scrawny boy before her might be -- but simply because the very core of her person is suffused with hospitality.
And when, later in the scene, she does discover his identity, her immediate thought is not that he is famous but that he is alone in the world and needs a little mothering. She cautions her daughter that Harry won't want to be gawked at like some creature in the zoo.
A few months later, she sends Harry a homemade Weasley sweater for the holidays, much to Ron's chagrin. But to Harry, who has never received a Christmas present, the hand-knitted sweater signals belonging. It brings a message: You are part of us now.
As I explore our spiritual practice of hospitality throughout September, I keep circling back to Molly as the hospitable person I want to become. She's not a perfect person by any means; she has a fierce temper, succumbs to a dubious Author Crush, and has lousy taste in music. But she is always, always one who welcomes the stranger. In Book 2, when Harry visits the Weasley family, Molly immediately treats him like one of her own children. He's given a little extra food to fatten him up, but he's also allowed to go out and de-gnome the garden, doing household chores like everybody else.
She regards him as both special and not special, which is just about right, I think. One trick of hospitality is treating people not as you would want to be treated yourself, but as they want to be treated, which is usually much harder.
Treating people like we would wish to be treated ourselves is great in theory, but in practice it can be an extension of our own ego and selfishness. Molly and Harry butt heads a few times in the later books over his growing adolescent need for independence, but she ultimately respects his need to not be, quite literally, mollycoddled.
It's not just Harry who benefits from Molly's open-handed generosity. The Weasley home is a safehouse for all sorts of flawed humans (Mundungus Fletcher, anyone?), not to mention assorted creatures that others might censure, such as werewolves. Molly feeds everyone her famed cooking, despite the fact that it's not like her family is drowning in cash. The Weasleys are perpetually short of money with their own large family, but you never see either Molly or Arthur turning guests away because they're poor. She refuses to accept Harry's Triwizard Tournament prize money when he attempts to press it on her, even though a thousand galleons would go far to alleviate her own family's poverty.
Molly's no saint, except when she is; her fierce love for her own family extends outward to create an entire community with bonds of love. Until the end of the seventh book, we only see her magical power in terms of housewifely arts -- she can make potatoes jump out of their jackets (please, please teach me how to do that) and knitting needles clack amongst themselves. But in the Battle of Hogwarts, we get a glimpse of a different, powerful Molly Weasley -- a strength that has informed her character all along, but is galvanized into action when her daughter is attacked. "Not my daughter, you bitch!" Molly hurls, singlehandedly dueling Bellatrix Lestrange to the death in order to protect the Weasley family.
But that's just it. Molly's protectiveness has never been reserved just for her own seven children. From that cocoon it has ever extended outward to include the stranger and build community. In a fantastic twist of irony, the woman who is best known for welcoming the stranger kills the woman whose very name means "the stranger"; Bellatrix has spent a lifetime as the anti-Molly, and she is about to pay.
And so it is that Molly Weasley, housewife, deals the penultimate death blow to the Death Eaters.
Her hospitality helps save the world.