“We extend a special welcome to those who are single, married, divorced, gay, and filthy rich or dirt poor. And to those who are crying newborns, skinny as a rail, or who could afford to lose a few pounds. We welcome you if you can sing like Barbara Streisand or like our priest, who can’t carry a note in a bucket.
You’re welcome here if you’re “just browsing”, just woke up, or just got out of jail. We don’t care if you’re more Catholic than the Pope, or haven’t been to church since little Joey’s Baptism. We extend a special welcome to those who are over 60 but not grown up yet and to teenagers who are growing up too fast. We welcome soccer moms, NASCAR dads, starving artists, tree-huggers, latte-sippers, vegetarians, and junk-food eaters.
We offer special welcome to those who think the world is flat, work too hard, don’t work, can’t spell, or because Grandma is in town and she wanted to go to church today. We welcome those who are inked, pierced or both. We offer a special welcome to those who could use a prayer right now, had religion shoved down your throat as a kid or got lost in traffic and wound up here by mistake. We welcome tourists, seekers and doubters, bleeding hearts… and YOU!”
Imagine a world where all were welcomed with this sentiment, no matter what threshold we cross.
Imagine a world where we don’t exclude someone because of the color of their skin or the language that rolls off their tongue, a stamp of the parents who brought them into the world, and perhaps even a source of comfort in their absence.
Imagine a world where we all acknowledge each other’s faith in something greater than ourselves, because where else would we seek hope if not from a being we believe gave us the world?
Imagine a world where artists, politicians, doctors, teachers, and athletes see each other as brothers and sisters, stripped of the labels that may denote a status, but don’t define them.
Imagine a world where the ink or piercing on someone’s skin doesn’t intimidate us so much, we miss out on getting to know our best friend.
Imagine a world where we aren’t singled out because of our voice, whether it is a beautiful singing voice, one that sings off-key, one that speaks our own truth, or one that disagrees with another.
Imagine a world where children are raised with hands that hold rather than hands that strike, and are taught that adding a new friend to their group can be life changing not only for the group, but for the new friend.
Imagine a world where parents always see themselves through their children’s eyes, giving them pause before yelling at a coach or cussing at someone who cut them off in traffic because our behavior gives our children the green light to do the same as adults.
Imagine a world where parents support each other rather than tear each other down for parenting choices that may look different from the outside, but come from the same place of love within each one of us.
Imagine a world where we approach each other with an open heart if not an open mind, knowing that all too often it is our heart that understands before our mind can.
Imagine a world where we allow ourselves to treat each other with dignity and respect even when we don’t understand each other.
Imagine a world where we realize language isn’t the only barrier keeping us from finding common ground.
Imagine a world where we invite our neighbor past the driveway and the daily wave, and into our home to share stories over a meal. Imagine all that we could learn from such a simple act. It may not change the world, but it will change our heart.
Imagine a world where common courtesy is more common and less extraordinary, and holding the door for someone or saying good morning to a stranger doesn’t take an act of courage because we would rather avoid feeling awkward.
Imagine a world where we push past the awkwardness, and learned a little something about ourselves in the process.
Imagine what we might learn about others when we allow ourselves to step out of the comfort zone we didn’t know we were guarding, clad in the armor of a thousand warriors.
The quote above is pulled directly from a church we discovered shortly after moving to Texas this past summer. It is the welcome message on their website, under “If you’re new to St. John’s Episcopal Church.” It is also what got me dreaming about a world where my imagination meets my reality. Finding this church is definitely a step in that direction.
Add your own, “Imagine a world…” in the comments.