Meditations on who is invited? Sitting down to the wedding banquet (or not)

That you need a village, if only for the pleasure of leaving it. Your own village means that you’re not alone, that you know there’s something of you in the people and the plants and the soil, that even when you are not there it waits to welcome you. — Cesare Pavese

Welcome home my dear, you are arrived. — Elton John

If you’ve ever been homesick, or felt exiled from all the things and people that once defined you, you’ll know how important welcoming words and friendly smiles can be. – Stephen King

Small cheer and great welcome makes a merry feast. — William Shakespeare

Welcome the present moment as if you had invited it. Why? Because it is all we ever have. — Pema Chodron

Welcome those big, sticky, complicated problems. In them are your most powerful opportunities. — Ralph Marston

Welcome to my house! Enter freely. Go safely, and leave something of the happiness you bring! — Bram Stoker

A smile is the universal welcome. —  Max Eastman



When you are lost
in your own life.

When the landscape
you have known
falls away.

When your familiar path
becomes foreign
and you find yourself
a stranger
in the story you had held
most dear.

Then let yourself
be lost.
Let yourself leave
for a place
whose contours
you do not already know,
whose cadences
you have not learned
by heart.
Let yourself land
on a threshold
that mirrors the mystery
of your own
bewildered soul.

It will come
as a surprise,
what arrives
to welcome you
through the door,
making a place for you
at the table
and calling you
by your name.

Let what comes,

Let the glass
be filled.
Let the light
be tended.
Let the hands
lay before you
what will meet you
in your hunger.

Let the laughter.
Let the sweetness
that enters
the sorrow.
Let the solace
that comes
as sustenance
and sudden, unbidden

For what comes,
offer gladness.
For what greets you
with kindly welcome,
offer thanks.
Offer blessing
for those
who gathered you in
and will not
be forgotten—

those who,
when you were
a stranger,
made a place for you
at the table
and called you
by your name.

Every day, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others; to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others. I am going to benefit others as much as I can. — Dalai Lama


This blessing

has been waiting for you

for a long time.

While you have been

making your way here,

this blessing has been

gathering itself,

making ready,

biding its time,


This blessing has been

polishing the door,

oiling the hinges,

sweeping the steps,

lighting candles

in the windows.

This blessing has been

setting the table

as it hums a tune

from an old song

it knows,

something about

a spiraling road

and bread

and grace.

All this time

it has kept an eye

on the horizon,


keeping vigil,

hardly aware of how

it was leaning itself

in your direction.

And now that

you are here,

this blessing

can hardly believe

its good fortune

that you have finally arrived,

that it can drop everything

at last

to fling its arms wide

to you, crying





May all that is unforgiven in you,
Be released.

May your fears yield
Their deepest tranquilities.

May all that is unlived in you,
Blossom into a future,
Graced with love.

Inspired by Joy Harjo’s Perhaps the World Ends Here, a collection of student poetry about everyday objects such as the kitchen table:

Mrs. Nazimek, 8th Grade, Washington

At The Table — Bryanna P.

At the table I play / games like Monopoly.
At the table I sometimes / get yelled at.
The table is like a sign / of bringing everyone together.
The table has been / through a lot and still
has not managed to chip / or break.
The table is a very / special thing.
At the table we laugh, / talk and sometimes even / fall asleep.
At the table there are / so many memories that / will never be forgotten.

Untitled — Maribel R.

The world begins at a dining room table.
You would eat at this table
This table had all my birthday cakes
This table had all my family dinners
All my homework has been done at this table.
After having so much homework on this
table I thought the table would collapse
Under the table are legs and my
dog spread out in the middle.
This table had our family gatherings.
This table has never been moved.
At this table we talk about anything.
This table has held my life together.
this table has seen sadness and
This world will end at the dining
room table, while we are laughing
and having happiness.

Kitchen TableEmily A.

We eat at this table,
delicious food that we can’t get sick of.
each day we converse at this talbe.
we talk about the good
and the bad…
We have heard some tragic things.
Other things were wonderful
We all reunite at this table.
It’s the only time we can be together.
It’s what got us closer,
What made us stronger,
What made us weaker,
What made us happier.
But whatever happens in the end,
we’ll all be together,
laughing, talking and gossiping
at the kitchen table.

Mrs. Strus, 7th Grade, Washington

Table of Memories — Gabriella S.

The table si where I enjoyed eating dinner with my
The table is where I aged, and where everyone would
sing for me at each birthday.
the table is where we had long talks about life
and what it’s become.
The table is where I told my parents what I wanted to
be when I grew up.
the table is where I was taught to behave.
The table is where we played hours of games
as a family.
Lastly, the table is where I live and learn the
meaning of life.

The TableCesar L.

I have worked very hard
at the table. I hope to meet
family members I have never seen
at this table. There have been
fights at this table. Tears have
dropped on this table. I have cleaned
this table. It’s a brown wooden

WELCOME — Stephen Dunne

if you believe nothing is always what’s left
after a while, as I did,
If you believe you have this collection
of ungiven gifts, as I do (right here
behind the silence and the averted eyes)
If you believe an afternoon can collapse
into strange privacies-
how in your backyard, for example,
the shyness of flowers can be suddenly
overwhelming, and in the distance
the clear goddamn of thunder
personal, like a voice,
If you believe there’s no correct response
to death, as I do; that even in grief
(where I’ve sat making plans)
there are small corners of joy
If your body sometimes is a light switch
in a house of insomniacs
If you can feel yourself straining
to be yourself every waking minute
If, as I am, you are almost smiling . . .


The soul should always stand ajar, ready to welcome the ecstatic experience.— Emily Dickinson

The stories we love best do live in us forever. So, whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.— J.K. Rowling

One of the marvelous things about community is that it enables us to welcome and help people in a way we couldn’t as individuals. – Jean Vanier

To all my friends without distinction I am ready to display my opulence: come one, come all; and whosoever likes to take a share is welcome to the wealth that lies within my soul. — Antisthenese

God sends a welcome. —  John Herschel

We are made for goodness. We are made for love…We are made for all of the beautiful things that you and I know. We are made to tell the world that there are no outsiders…all are welcome. – Desmond Tutu

Welcome to the present moment. Here. Now. The only moment there ever is. — Eckhart Tolle

Sometimes the hurdles aren’t really hurdles at all. They’re welcome challenges, tests. — Paul Walker

I’m open for choices. I always welcome new ideas. I’m always eager to learn. I’m never going to close my mind from learning. — Cesar Millan

Good company, good wine, good welcome, can make good people. — William Shakespeare, from The Life of King Henry the Eighth

Welcome every morning with a smile. Look on the new day as another special gift from your Creator, another golden opportunity to complete what you were unable to finish yesterday. Be a self-starter. Let your first hour set the theme of success and positive action that is certain to echo through your entire day. Today will never happen again. Don’t waste it with a false start or no start at all. You were not born to fail.— Og Mandino

Welcome the challenges. Look for the opportunities in every situation to learn and grow in wisdom. — Brian Tracy

If the sign on your heart says “WELCOME”, the love will come pouring in from everywhere. — Susan Jeffers

Welcome out of the cave, my friend. It’s a bit colder out here, but the stars are just beautiful. —Plato

Joy waits on welcome, not time. – Robert Holden

When we are generous in welcoming people and sharing something with them some food, a place in our homes, our time-not only do we no longer remain poor: we are enriched. — Pope Francis

Sometimes, challenges and struggles are exactly what we need in our lives…May you welcome every effort, every struggle, and every challenge…May you open your wings and fly! — Miranda Kerr

For each and all I bid thee a grateful welcome home. — John Greenleaf Whittier

Listening is much more than allowing another to talk while waiting for a chance to respond. Listening is paying full attention to others and welcoming them into our very beings. — Henry Nouwen

There’s no substitute for a great love who says, ‘No matter what’s wrong with you, you’re welcome at this table. – Tom Hanks

Like a welcome summer rain, humor may suddenly cleanse and cool the earth, the air, and you. — Langston Hughes

I will always welcome joyfully any opportunity that comes my way to be of service to you. – Vincent de Paul

Only flowers of buckwheat
Can still be served on the mountain road,
To welcome you here.
— Matsuo Basho, translated by Toshiharu

were you invited by the barley 
plumed with seed?
— Matsuo Basho translated by David Landis Barnhill


This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

— John O’Donohue

Bless the night that nourished my heart
To set the ghosts of longing free
Into the flow and figure of dream
That went to harvest from the dark
Bread for the hunger no one sees.

All that is eternal in me
Welcomes the wonder of this day,
The field of brightness it creates
Offering time for each thing
To arise and illuminate.

I place on the altar of dawn:
The quiet loyalty of breath,
The tent of thought where I shelter,
Waves of desire I am shore to
And all beauty drawn to the eye.

May my mind come alive today
To the invisible geography
That invites me to new frontiers,
To break the dead shell of yesterdays,
To risk being disturbed and changed.

May I have the courage today
To live the life that I would love,
To postpone my dream no longer
But do at last what I came here for
And waste my heart on fear no more.

REMEMBER — Joy Harjo

Remember the sky that you were born under,
know each of the star’s stories.
Remember the moon, know who she is.
Remember the sun’s birth at dawn, that is the
strongest point of time. Remember sundown
and the giving away to night.
Remember your birth, how your mother struggled
to give you form and breath. You are evidence of
her life, and her mother’s, and hers.
Remember your father. He is your life, also.
Remember the earth whose skin you are:
red earth, black earth, yellow earth, white earth
brown earth, we are earth.
Remember the plants, trees, animal life who all have their
tribes, their families, their histories, too. Talk to them,
listen to them. They are alive poems.
Remember the wind. Remember her voice. She knows the
origin of this universe.
Remember you are all people and all people
are you.
Remember you are this universe and this
universe is you.
Remember all is in motion, is growing, is you.
Remember language comes from this.
Remember the dance language is, that life is.


WELCOME — Susan Eisenberg

Everything you thought you knew

must be relearned overnight.

How to walk.

Walk, not trip, over cords, 2x4s,

used coffee cups, concrete cores.

Walk, 40 pounds on your shoulder, across

rebar or a wood plank; glide,

not wobble, not look like the bounce

beneath each bootstep scares you.

How to dress yourself

to work outdoors all day midwinter

and keep warm, keep working, fingers moving;

or midsummer, with no hint of breasts.

How to climb ladders–

not a stepstool or a 4-footer–

ladders that stretch up two stories

where someone’s impatient

for that bundle of pipe.

How to get coffee–

hot and how they like it–to a crew

spread out 10 floors; to carry muffins

three blocks in a paper sack

through sheets of rain.

How to look.

To never go back empty-handed

when you’re told, Grab me a This/That

from the gangbox, if all you’ve done

is move things around, poke here and there;

if you haven’t emptied out the full contents

so the journeyman won’t shame you

by finding This/That in a quick minute,

after you’ve said, We don’t have any.

How to be dependable

but not predictable-provokable.

Not the lunch break entertainment.

How to read


delivery orders,

the mood on the job;

how long it’s okay to sit down for coffee;

how early you can start rolling up cords.

How to do well in school

from the back row

of a seats-assigned-Jim-Crow classroom

How to learn tricks-of-the-trade

from someone who does not like you.

How to listen, to act-don’t-ask.

To duck when someone motions, Duck!

Or when someone tells you, Don’t talk to Zeke,

to know what they mean

so you don’t even look

at Zeke, the ironworker who’s always first out,

last in, standing there, so four times a day–

start, lunch, quit–all the workers walk past him,

like a sandbar, waves washing back and forth,

that catches debris.

How to pick up the phone and call your friend,

the only one of the women not at class

the night the apprenticeship director met you all

at the door

carrying the nervous rumor

that one of the women had been raped

and you all look at each other

and it wasn’t any of you five.

How to respond–within protocol–

when someone takes your ladder or tools,

imitates your voices on the loudspeaker,

spraypaints Cunt on your Baker staging,

urinates in your hardhat,

drives to your home

where you live alone

with your daughter

and keys your truck parked

in your own driveway.

Later, you’ll need the advanced skills:

how–without dislodging the keystone–

to humiliate a person, how to threaten

a person. Deftly.

So no one’s certain for absolute

that’s what happened. Not even you.


Why and by whose power were you sent?

What do you see that you may wish to steal?

Why this dancing? Why do your dark bodies

Drink up all the light? What are you demanding

That we feel? Have you stolen something? Then

What is that leaping in your chest? What is

The nature of your mission? Do you seek

To offer a confession? Have you anything to do

With others brought by us to harm? Then

Why are you afraid? And why do you invade

Our night, hands raised, eyes wide, mute

As ghosts? Is there something you wish to confess?

Is this some enigmatic type of test? What if we

Fail? How and to whom do we address our appeal?

SONG of WELCOME   Joseph Brodsky

Here’s your mom, here’s your dad.

Welcome to being their flesh and blood.

Why do you look so sad?

Here’s your food, here’s your drink.

Also some thoughts, if you care to think.

Welcome to everything.

Here’s your practically clean slate.

Welcome to it, though it’s kind of late.

Welcome at any rate.


Here’s your paycheck, here’s your rent.

Money is nature’s fifth element.

Welcome to every cent.

Here’s your swarm and your huge beehive.

Welcome to the place with its roughly five

billion like you alive.

Welcome to the phone book that stars your name.

Digits are democracy’s secret aim.

Welcome to your claim to fame.


Here’s your marriage, and here’s divorce.

Now that’s the order you can’t reverse.

Welcome to it; up yours,

Here’s your blade, here’s your wrist.

Welcome to playing your own terrorist;

call it your Middle East.

Here’s your mirror, your dental gleam.

Here’s an octopus in your dream.

Why do you try to scream?


Here’s your corncob, your TV set.

Your candidate suffering an upset.

Welcome to what he said.

Here’s your porch, see the cars pass by.

Here’s your shitting dog’s guilty eye.

Welcome to its alibi.

Here are your cicadas, then a chickadee,

the bulb’s dry tear in your lemon tea.

Welcome to infinity.


Here are your pills on the plastic tray,

your disappointing, crisp X-ray.

You are welcome to pray.

Here’s your cemetery, a well-kept glen.

Welcome to a voice that says “Amen.”

The end of the rope, old man.

Here’s your will, and here’s a few

takers. Here’s an empty pew.

Here’s life after you.


And here are your stars which appear still keen

on shining as though you had never been.

They might have a point, old bean.

Here’s your afterlife, with no trace

of you, especially of your face.

Welcome, and call it space.

Welcome to where one cannot breathe.

This way, space resembles what’s underneath,

and Saturn holds the wreath.

Church & Community Service Opportunities

Community Service: • Serve as coordinator for county Emergency Food and Shelter Program to distribute FEMA funds to local nonprofits • Volunteer on the Jackson fire department. • Come by and tackle a church “honey do” task. • Sign up to prepare coffee, serve refreshments, greet people at front door, or offer special music during worship. • Consider joining a church team. • Donate tents or sleeping bags and toiletries to day resource center for housing-insecure valley residents.

Continue reading “Church & Community Service Opportunities”

Meditations on serving angels in the guise of strangers, and the role of patriarchs in our lives.

The Gift — Li-Young Lee

To pull the metal splinter from my palm
my father recited a story in a low voice.
I watched his lovely face and not the blade.
Before the story ended, he’d removed
the iron sliver I thought I’d die from.

I can’t remember the tale,
but hear his voice still, a well
of dark water, a prayer.
And I recall his hands,
two measures of tenderness
he laid against my face,
the flames of discipline
he raised above my head.

Had you entered that afternoon
you would have thought you saw a man
planting something in a boy’s palm,
a silver tear, a tiny flame.
Had you followed that boy
you would have arrived here,
where I bend over my wife’s right hand.

Look how I shave her thumbnail down
so carefully she feels no pain.
Watch as I lift the splinter out.
I was seven when my father
took my hand like this,
and I did not hold that shard
between my fingers and think,
Metal that will bury me,
christen it Little Assassin,
Ore Going Deep for My Heart.
And I did not lift up my wound and cry,
Death visited here!
I did what a child does
when he’s given something to keep.
I kissed my father.


The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others. – Ghandi

People will forget what you said, forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. – Maya Angelou

In the cherry blossom’s shade there’s no such thing as a stranger. ― Kobayashi Issa

Hospitality means primarily the creation of free space where the stranger can enter and become a friend instead of an enemy. Hospitality is not to change people, but to offer them space where change can take place. It is not to bring men and women over to our side, but to offer freedom not disturbed by dividing lines. ― Henri Nouwen, Reaching Out: The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life

There is great value in being able to say “yes” when people ask if there is anything they can do. By letting people pick herbs or slice bread instead of bringing a salad, you make your kitchen a universe in which you can give completely and ask for help. The more environments with that atmospheric makeup we can find or create, the better. ― Tamar Adler, An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace

But entertaining isn’t a sport or a competition. It’s an act of love, if you let it be. You can twist it and turn it into anything you want—a way to show off your house, a way to compete with your friends, a way to earn love and approval. Or you can decide that every time you open your door, it’s an act of love, not performance or competition or striving. You can decide that every time people gather around your table, your goal is nourishment, not neurotic proving. You can decide. ― Shauna Niequist, Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes

On Patriarchs

The monarch oak, the patriarch of the trees,
Shoots rising up, and spreads by slow degrees.
Three centuries he grows, and three he stays.
Supreme in state, and in three more decays. — John Dryden

It is a wise father that knows his own child. — William Shakespeare

My father used to say it’s never too late to do what you want to do. And he said, ‘You never know what you can accomplish until you try.’ — Michael Jordan

I imagine God to be like my father. My father was always the voice of certainty in my life. Certainty in wisdom, certainty in the path, certainty always in God. For me God is certainty in everything. Certainty that everything is good and everything is God. — Yehuda Berg

Son, brother, father, lover, friend. There is room in the heart for all of the affections, as there is room in the heaven for all of the stars. — Victor Hugo

I imagined that the right name might be Father, and I imagined all that that name would imply: the love, the compassion, the taking offense, the disappointment, the anger, the bearing of wounds, the weeping of tears, the forgiveness … — Wendell Berry

It is easier for a father to have children than for children to have a real father. — Pope John XXIII

Were man to live coeaval with the sun, the patriarch-pupil would be learning still. — Edward Young

Scroll to top