Offering a welcome is habitual and polite, if not always authentic.
Centuries ago, the word was supposedly two separate words that designated the guest as a desired one, a “willed comer”. Maybe the invite is that you come well, bringing hope and happiness with you.
Our YAV house was briefly a scavenger hunt of welcoming, with dozen of notes hidden in the cupboards and in chair cushions, I doubt we’ve found them all even after two weeks in the house. One read, “welcome!” The misspelling in crayon made me smile. It gave me the sense that the young author wished us well and considered the YAVs to be desired guests and “willed comers”. It was authentic.
So far we have only been the guests. We have received the authentic, warm welcome of a community who wants us here but we do not quite belong just yet. I’m not sure who I am here at Ferncliff and where exactly I fit. That is okay. I am excited to figure it out.
At orientation it was made clear that we are not needed as volunteers; we are not meant to save the world. While several new YAVs were jaded by hearing that, I already knew it. I know I might be a nuisance to train. I know I have a lot more to learn. I know I don’t know everything.
A Call to Worship used at orientation really stuck with me. It ended with: “All of you is welcome. Each of you is welcome. Most importantly, all of each of you is welcome.” This reminds us that every person is God’s person and we are here to welcome them. We are all welcome. We are welcome regardless of our race, age, gender, sexual orientation, mental health, birthplace, citizenship status, religion or lack thereof.
It is hard to welcome someone else when I am a guest myself. Most guests have limited responsibilities. I like having responsibilities, so much so that some would call me bossy. Responsibility gives me a sense of ownership over my work. Here at Ferncliff I am figuring out what my responsibilities are and what I can do to welcome others. I want to let them know that each of us is a “willed comer” and all of us is welcome. Here I am, with hope and happiness in my heart. Here I am, to welcome any and all.