The Possibilities of An Invitation
I have been struck over the past year over the power of an invitation. Invitations can come in many different forms. The invitation does not have to be to some type of formal event, which we often correlate with an invitation such as to my niece’s First Communion gathering. It can be and is often more powerful if it is to something more simple, something more everyday, for eg. “would you want to go check out what’s going on at the YMCA this Thursday ?”
Invitations have the potential to be powerful, significant and life changing because they invite us to step out of our comfort zone, ordinary routine, same old,-same old and be somewhere different with potentially new people. And perhaps, it not s0o much that the people or the place are really “new,” but that the conversation will be new.
In my conversations with people who have a disability, I have been amazed by how powerful invitations can be. I know from years of being in a service system that people with disabilities and their families can easily become reliant on these systems. And then within these systems there are seldom invitations to anything - more or less something new and different. These same systems have a tendency to be focused on needs, deficits, segregation and the past.
Invitations can be the ticket to move past this. Recently I offered an invitation to my friend , “do you want to go check out what’s going on down the street at your community center?” Sure!
Once at the community center, the possibilities exist in the conversations that occur. I invite Robin, the Director, to talk with us about what goes on here. This conversation was with citizens, other people in this neighborhood…“new” people, citizens, neighbors who are not focused on Michael’s needs, deficits and past. The conversation was about what’s going at the community center, and what of that interests Michael. Possibilities exist in that conversation!
These possibilities exist for Michael as the person with the disability, and for Robin who is the coordinator of the community center. Michael has found a hospitable place where he can participate and give his gifts of caring and humor and be a friend to others in his community. Robin’s “community” center now has the possibility of becoming stronger because another member of our community is included and participating and giving his gifts. And new possibilities exist for everyone who comes to this community center because they now will be in conversation with Michael, and enjoying his gifts of humor, caring, and friendship. And doesn’t it make sense that what occurs here at this community center then in turn ripples out and makes the entire community a better place, for everyone. And it all started with a simple invitation.
What’s the invitation you can make today?
- J Erpenbeck