The Art of Welcoming

This morning, I walked by an elementary school. 

Above the entrance was a big sign carved in stone: WELCOME. 

I have uncommon affection for this common word. At heart, it speaks to what we all hunger for: to be received with warmth. 

Welcome comes from the Old English, roughly meaning a person whose arrival is pleasing. 

Imagine, for a moment, what kind of a world it would be if we welcomed each other like that: I delight in you being here, this place is better for you being in it. 

Welcoming doesn't mean we greet every single soul with 1,000 trumpets. Or that that elementary school should receive every student with confetti and fireworks. 

Only that we say, with word or gesture, to those we care about: I'm pleased you've arrived back in my life. 

If we welcomed each other like that, I've got to believe we'd all walk the earth feeing like we belong - both here and to each other. 

Yet it's safer to barely acknowledge each other. To mute our enthusiasm. And for this, and many other reasons, it's a more familiar human state to feel out of place than it is to feel belonging. 

Now, to be sure, there are some for whom we aren't pleased they've arrived. And I'm not saying we should contrive a false sense of welcome. 

But for those we care for, I am saying: Let's risk welcoming each other. Which really is to risk letting each other know, I see you are here. And this place - and I - am better for it. 

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