This post, written by Kim Sproul, reflects on how a simple invitation can positively impact a person’s life, and how we need to intentionally look for ways we can connect with others in our community. This story was shared with us by New Story Group. Kim and NSG, thanks for sharing!
“I have been in my position for nearly two years and the learning that has most impacted me, on both a personal and professional level, is the absolutely crucial role that invitation serves when thinking about belonging. There is power in the extending of an invitation.
Take for example, a job opportunity. Someone who has had few opportunities to see/show themselves as gifted and talented may not necessarily read or hear about a job posting and think, “That could be me.” Their experience, up until then, might be as someone defined by their needs, and not their skills and attitude. This same person, with a gift of welcoming, hospitality, and warmth, may realize that they actually have much to offer in this role. A conundrum. A person so perfect for a role, but whose resume will never be submitted. This someone is encouraged to apply. Reminded about the impact they have on others. Praised for the skills they have, and prompted to see that the listed assets are all things they are brilliant at.
This is a real example and an experience I won’t soon forget. In reaching out to this person, I watched as pride, dignity and self-valuing took the forefront for this gentleman. If I think about it, I realize that by individually seeking this person out and extending an invitation, he becomes: known well enough by another to be seen as an exceptional candidate; seen as gifted in the eyes of another; and encouraged to take on this socially valued role. These are the types of experiences that I believe we all seek out, where hospitality and invitation enable us to be part of community.
Of course, invitations come in an assortment of offers. One can be invited to the home of another, or to share a common experience, or to participate in a group or team, or perhaps to give of their time and talents. In any given invitation, there is a great amount of relating required. And, here is the key – hospitality makes the invitation authentic!
Circling back to my work, invitation is a huge element, of course. However, it also needs to be accompanied by intentionality. Noticing takes time. Seeing around one’s self requires that you look, hear, and notice. I shall never know that my neighbour also loves rock music until I am present enough to see, to ask, to wonder. Families who have a loved one with a disability sometimes live in communities that have simply forgotten how to see. Forgotten that it takes work and hospitality to be in relationships. If left unaddressed, we will continue to have families isolated within their very own neighbourhoods. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to remain that way.
In our very own region, we have amazing people who are all getting VERY intentional. Questions are being asked like, “Who is left out?”, “Whose voice is not presently represented?” or “Who isn’t here, right now, at this table?”
In my small role, I am reaching out to individuals and their families with one more question: “What would it take for you to feel like you belong in your own neighbourhood?”
Co-Chair, New Story GroupTags: NSG