We were all welcome to join in a moment of reflection and commitment at the Global Climate Summit.The Grace Cathedral Verger escorted people from Hindu, Islam, Buddhist, Christian and Indigenous faiths. Each group walked down the long aisle to the front of the Cathedral. As they walked, the light streamed through the front doors welcoming all. Even the trees on stilts stepped in with welcoming arms. Each tree seemed to be saying…Welcome to our….home, community, neighborhood, and fragile planet. This moment of commitment and reflection led me to think about the power of a Welcome.
It’s easy to say “welcome to our home, office, or neighborhood”. Yet, how do people really know that we want to include them and genuinely welcome them with open arms and mind? How do they know their values and perspectives are welcomed?
Just for an example…When you look at the welcome signs of different states you can see all the different ways people interpret a welcome. Color, shapes, symbols, phrases…all are options for welcoming someone.
I’ve noticed this week that we use a flag, a doormat, wind chime, pineapple, peace sign, shamrock, an “All are Welcome” rainbow to welcome others. We say: Namaste, Aloha, Bienvenue…the list goes on and on.We welcome in so many ways. Symbols and words do matter. Yet, do people truly feel welcome?
I am not a member of Grace Cathedral. Yet, I felt like the Verger and trees were welcoming me in to this moment of inclusive commitment and reflection. In this grand Episcopal Cathedral I felt most welcomed because of the trees and the quiet procession. It was not the words spoken, or climate commitments shared, but the procession of people and trees reminding me that we are one humanity on this planet.
What symbols and words make you feel welcome?
As you move through this week, think about how you could offer a welcome. What power can you unleash by welcoming someone you have never met? What inclusion can you create by welcoming a family, friend, or stranger into your life and space. What symbols will you use to let people know that you genuinely and inclusively welcome them?
Wave your arms, think like a tree. Stand tall. Who will you welcome in today?