The Power of Welcoming

 

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One of the more difficult aspects of our nomadic existence is developing community. It can be difficult to find when you’re not in a place long enough to grow roots. Oh how we all need those roots to flourish!

The shorter the length of your stay the more evasive community is. And yet those in-between spaces are often the times you crave community the most— when you’re far from the ones you love and longing for a welcoming face. It is painful to go weeks or even months on end all the while feeling as though you’re walking among strangers.

Don’t get me wrong, there are tons of wonderful aspects of moving often. Our circle is ever-expanding, the world is ever shrinking. We shatter our comfort zones (what is a comfort zone, again?) and explore places we never thought we would. We travel, we make friends, we grow. 90% of me is really thankful for this crazy phase we’re living in.

But that other 10% wishes for the comfort and security of being known. The luxury of living close to family and friends— to choose a place and stay there for a while. I’m sure there will come a day when our life looks a little more anchored, but in the meantime, we’ll make the most of our constant transitions.

So those instances when we feel welcomed in spite of our temporary status leave an enormous impact.

To the communities that have welcomed us, the warm words that you impart are more needed than you know. We know that our circumstances are baffling, even off-setting; “What do you mean you’re heading out in three weeks? You just got here!” So often, it’s easier to leave us before we leave you. To give up on forging a connection because we’ll be gone before it will really lead anywhere. I understand— I’ve had that same temptation when I meet someone and know that my path is unlikely to cross theirs in the future. I see the warmth in your smile falter a bit as you search for an appropriate response. I know that to you, we remain a mystery, and I surely don’t fault you for it.

You see, we leave places pretty often. We walk into and out of churches and social circles, leaving a path of communities in our wake.  We miss more people than we can count, and are constantly meeting more who we will inevitably come to miss. We don’t enjoy missing the big moments of your lives; the birthdays and graduations and weddings and births. The knowledge that we are often a part of the past— your past—rather than the future can be painful. But on we go, to the next place, to the next adventure.

And yet there are always those rare souls who can look into our eyes without darting away and say “welcome”. These simple acts of kindness never fail to blow me away. I aspire to that level of vulnerability and others-centeredness!

The love you’ve shown in a passing moment gives me what I need to keep trekking along.

Thank you.

 

2 thoughts on “The Power of Welcoming

  1. “The comfort and security of being known.” This is something I’ve thought about so often! All those years in Minnesota I never felt totally grounded; not quite connected. I did not share the bond to the area that my coworkers enjoyed. It was a very subtle difference, but one that I felt deep within my soul. Moving to Missouri at the onset, made me homesick for Iowa, not Minnesota. I longed for someone to know me. Now that we live in Iowa, outwardly there is no significant difference. We are in a town where we know practically no one and neither of us has roots specific to Spencer. But when I hear a particular phrase something rings true, the name of a town recalls a long lost memory, a name connects to a family lineage. A family reunion filled with faces not seen in years and yet I feel at home. There is indeed a certain comfort and security of being known. (P.S.- I submitted a weather photo to the local TV news and heard from numerous people that they had seen it. I felt connected. It made the point I’d felt so often in my adopted home of MN.)

    1. I feel much the same way! Whenever I go home, even though I haven’t lived there in almost 10 years, I feel a connection and a sense of history. That’s why Mississippi has been a big adjustment- not because it’s a “bad” place to be, but because it isn’t where my roots are! It’s encouraging that even after all that time away, Iowa still feels like home to you 🙂

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