I've written a lot about hospitality on this site; my own experiences of inclusion and exclusion, welcome and rejection have led me to do whatever possible to include everyone in every activity and every place. Basic etymology from dictionary dot com explains:
Old English wilcuma "welcome!" exclamation of kindly greeting, from earlier wilcuma (n.) "welcome guest," literally "one whose coming suits another's will or wish," from willa "pleasure, desire, choice" (see will (n.)) + cuma "guest," related to cuman "to come," from PIE root *gwa- "to go, come." Similar formation in Old High German willicomo, Middle Dutch wellecome.I've blogged about my own experiences of exclusion; written more than a few paragraphs about being surprised when individuals and communities have welcomed me. For this post I'll wonder how best to react or respond when people don't excitedly welcome me – and my participation – into their corner of the world. I'm equal parts iconoclast and people-pleaser, and though I sure won't change my style, opinions, or approach to make anyone happy or happier, I still want to be part of the scene, still long to feel I belong. It would be non-productive, but I easily could remember and type a long list of times people clearly rejected me but I rationalized that couldn't be—I had to be reading them wrong, so I stayed too long, hoped against evidence. After all, you always need to give people time to be comfortable with you, to convince them you've no plans to take over their place, to do whatever job they've been doing? A little time, yes. But please not forever? in addition, I know it's unreal for me to expect everyone everywhere to be excited whenever they see me, to greet me like their almost forever missing BFF.
I've talked about stories (together) starting to be written and then suddenly erased. Almost countless pocket vetoes I know aren't unique to me (though the number and weight of them feels exceptionally burdensome); a major incident of ghosting by Town and Gown Church in Exclusive Affluent City—and possibly others I can't pain myself to recall.
In addition, I wonder about recent incidents of not being welcomed into settings I assumed would be ecstatic about my background and offers where they obviously pocket vetoed me by not responding to my many emails or texts. Even though I know – likely you do, too – a 2nd or 3rd note always is wise (from all those emails I fully intended to answer a few days or a couple weeks ago but that now are out of sight when I'm in gmail, out of mind except when I'm far away from my email).
My Porch Stories image header features my front porch in a previous city and another life. Times change. People change. Kristin Taylor has written about ways God steered her life in directions quite different from most of what she expected. I still struggle (I still do my specialized rationalizing most of the time) to see what's next, to discern beyond the disappointments. This is not a hunter-gatherer society; I need to go for and claim more.
Years of loss, grief, and disappointment have invaded my body and made me weary all over. Yet the origins of welcome still hold true: to take pleasure in someone's presence, to choose or will them to be with you. Sometimes you need to move out the old furniture in order to make room for the new... yes, you do!