All ARE Welcome. For Real.



Do you ever find yourself in the middle of an otherwise ordinary moment, and realize that something extraordinary is happening?

Yeah, me neither.

Kidding.  A real jokester, that’s what I am.

Actually, that’s the very thing we’re here to talk about today, kids. Cause that’s exactly what happened to me this weekend. Something extraordinary in the ordinary.  And of course you’re going to hear all about it.

So now that I’ve built this up, it’d better be good.  I know that’s what you’re thinking.  And I can’t blame you.  Cause that’s what I’D think.  But I can tell you this:  Yeah, it IS good, so don’t worry your pretty little head, just keep on reading.

Ok, so here’s how it all went down:

I had just spent the weekend in Phoenix, at a conference/residency thingie I’m involved with, through the Colson Fellows Program (and yes, I believe “thingie” is the technical term for it) where we listen to all these great speakers and thinkers who challenge us in the way we think  and communicate about worldview.  And, in case you’re wondering, it’s from a Christian worldview, but hold on there Bessy, don’t put your guard up so quick if you’re not on board.  This isn’t about indoctrination camp.  It’s about people from all walks of life, with (believe it or not) divergent views on any number of things, who happen to have one thing in common – a central adherence to the basic principles one can find in the Apostles Creed (here’s what I’m talking about in case you are unfamiliar: )

So yeah, I won’t bla bla bla about all of the little gems of wisdom and aha moments… cause there were lots (feel free to message me, and I’ll tell you more than you ever wanted to know, oh you’ll be sorry alright…),  but there were a few takeaways that I, um, took away from the weekend:

Not just the ones we use, but the way we use them. And they especially matter because…
Now, more than ever we are living in bubbles of cultural and ideological isolation, whereby words almost seem meaningless, because we have customized them to fit our own personal ideologies… and thus, have become isolated.  But the good news in all of this is, there are still things that bring us together. And we MUST find a way to use our words, not as weapons or bricks to separate us, but to speak to the place inside of all of us that recognizes those Truths that do bind us.
However we identify ourselves, or however the world identifies us, there is no exclusivity clause on that which brings life, freedom, and joy.

That’s the set up.  Now here’s where the story gets really good.

After it was all over, I had some time to kill before my flight home, so I  went with some friends to the Desert Botanical Gardens. It was lovely, just lovely, I tell you. Do you have any idea how many species of cacti there are?  A lot.  Let’s just leave it at that.  You’d think, in such an arid place, it’d be all dirt and rocks and stuff.  But you’d be wrong.  OH, the diversity.  Oh, the beauty.  I’ll show you pictures below, and you’ll see what I mean (or I suppose you could just google them… but these are MY pictures, so there’s that, plus I can’t get in trouble for posting them here).

And in the midst of all this diversity and beauty, there was a man-made feature;  a kind of semi-circle structure, designed to have you stand in the center, literally on this circle, and hear your own voice echo back to you, like you were speaking into a microphone.  This effect only happened when you were standing in the center, by the way. When we happened upon it, it was almost an empty space, save for about 2 friendly people, who invited us to try this cool experience… which we did – and they were right, it WAS cool!

Soon a few more people came, by, each receiving the same invitation. And then a few more. A young family. And older couple.  This race. That race. Able bodied. Physically challenged.  I’m not kidding, it was literally this little cross section of humanity, coming together in that moment, expressing awe, laughing, chatting, enjoying this experience, enjoying each other, and inviting anyone and everyone who came by to be a part of it. (Go’head, scroll back up and look at the picture at the top – that’s just part of the crowd!)

Some were skeptical.  “What is this, a trick?”  It took some convincing that there were no electroshock pads underneath ready to jolt them and/or hidden cameras loaded for bear to turn their public humiliation into a viral sensation.  But when they stepped into the center… oh, the smiles.  Every single time.  Cause the thing is, you can be told about it, and even watch someone else experience it.  But some things need to be experienced first hand.  Some things are true, even if we don’t experience it, or don’t believe it, or choose for whatever reason to opt out.  But none of it changes this simple fact:

ALL ARE WELCOME to experience it.

In the end, it’s up to us to accept the invitation.  Or not.

And that, my friends, was my extraordinary moment.  Because it was a picture of what that weekend… and really, what this little Isle… is all about.  ALL ARE WELCOME.

That means you.  And you over there.  And yes, even you.  (I see you there in the back).

How do I know this?  Because if I can be included, in all of my weirdness (remember, I AM the Chief Misfit around here) … be-hee-lieeeeeeve you me, there’s room for you.

So that’s my story.  Told you it was good.

What extraordinary things are you seeing in your ordinary? Would love you hear your thoughts!


Did I tell you?  Beauty!  Diversity!  In the desert no less!

One thought on “All ARE Welcome. For Real.

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