Monday, October 10, 2016

Thankful for Invitations

I was invited to a pre-Thanksgiving meal a week ago and before we ate our meal, our host asked each of us at the table what we were thankful for. "Invitations" came immediately to mind and stayed there. I didn't want to take the time to marinade that thought because I didn't want to miss hearing what the others were saying. When my turn came, I mumbled something to the effect of "Invitations ... like this one" and I added an unrelated thought and was grateful when the torch was passed to the person beside me. I said the word that was in my heart but I didn't add my heart to what I was saying.

I have been rejecting a lot of the world's invitations lately. I was struggling and it was getting harder and harder to find the energy to pull myself out of my safe place at home and into the world. Even when I was being invited into the warm arms of friendship. I was tired. So tired. I was broken and I didn't want light to shine upon who I was because I was so lost. Yet I kept receiving invitations.

Some invitations come out of the blue and all you have time to do is go. No time to think. You just pack up and leave. I had one of those invitations during my summer holidays and I went. I just followed the road and I was there. Exactly where I needed to be.

If I had been given time to wonder and think too long, I would have said, "I'll be there next week". In fact that is exactly what I had said mere hours before my "invitation" to drop everything and go immediately. I appreciate when life has other plans. When I'm busy overthinking something, gathering my resources and pumping myself up so I have the courage to walk out the door donning a mask of courage I don't feel, I often talk myself out of taking that very first step. It is ever so much easier when the invitation is immediate. Come. Now! When there is no time to think, I automatically do the right thing.

Some invitations are so hard to accept. "Would you like to join me and my family for a meal the day after tomorrow?" My initial response was "Do you remember the song from Sesame Street 'One of these things is not like the other. One of things just doesn't belong'? I don't feel like I belong."

But I belong to this wonderful club of "sister friends" who feel like family to me and the feeling is mutual. I believe I have been on a life long quest to collect sisters ever since my childhood. The sisters I longed for were grown up and married before I turned into a real life "sister" myself. My brother was five years younger than me so we didn't connect as a close brother/sister team until I moved out of the city. I've had family my whole life but I missed the connection that "The Waltons", "The Brady Bunch" and all the other TV programs of the 1970's depicted. I was lost but I was found all at the same time.

I have visions of my sisters "riding out on their white horses" at pivotal times throughout my life. Times when (as Glennon Doyle Melton describes as) I was being evicted out of the life I expected to be living and invited into a new (and better) one.

My sisters (those related by blood and those I have adopted along the way) have been there for me, with me and behind me during these times of great crisis invitations. We laughed when we wanted to cry. These life evictions bonded us, as each time we merge at a time of need or crisis we have forged a tighter bond. When you fear the very ground you are walking on is crumbling, it is good to have someone to hold onto. Times of crisis, times of celebration and no special time at all have all been invitations into each other's lives.

When life is comfortable and all appears well, there are often undercurrents of a quiet knowledge that things must change. I'm not good at making necessary change unless I receive a formal eviction. I seem to need the drama that comes with a forced eviction to make much needed change. My eviction notices have evolved into "handing in my notice" as the years have unfolded. It is so much harder to walk away from life as you know it when all seems well. Except when the deepest part of your knowing is telling you to let go. It is a little bit like that invitation you receive two months before the actual event. "So much can happen in two months!" races through my mind at those invitations. I'd so much rather just show up at the last minute.

My pre-Thanksgiving day invitation was a little bit like that. The fear monger which lives inside my head was so afraid to say "yes". I don't belong raced through my mind even though my friend assured me I was wrong. It was an honor to be invited into the arms of friendship and a family where blood ties didn't exist.

I've always shunned those "invitations" I have felt I have received because it was the right thing to do. The obligatory Mother's Day supper, invitations just because I'm my mother's daughter or it is the expected thing to do. This invitation came from a place of "I would like you to join us if you are free". No, but thank you was just as acceptable as yes, please! I was chosen.

We fall into some of our invitations and some invitations are well thought out. I appreciate all the invitations I receive. Sometimes I may not act on them as I should and that is when life conks me over the head with a 2 by 4 and knocks me silly (those seem to be the times my sisters show up out of the blue). I am grateful I haven't been knocked unconscious lately. I'm accepting and declining invitations with a clear head and an open mind.

I'm grateful life is always extending me an invitation to keep moving forward, out of my head and into the world. That is a lot to be grateful for.

P.S. Since I've been on the receiving end of so many invitations lately, I do believe it is time to get off the couch and start sending out my own invitations. I will start today.

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