What Does It Mean to Be
A People of Welcome?

Welcome sounds easy–we do it all the time. Welcoming neighbors into our homes. Welcoming new family members through birth, adoption, or marriage. On the other hand, we know the difference between a true heartfelt welcome and a grudging acceptance. Welcome makes all the difference in the world.

And what a perfect time to talk about it, as the new school year is in session and as new people come into the congregation, looking for a place to belong.


Welcoming is most often associated with “bigness.” We speak about “expanding the circle” and making more room. We talk about make ourselves larger through the practice of welcoming in new experiences and new ideas. But there is also the work of becoming smaller. And sometimes that is the even more important work.

For instance, those of us who are white are learning that true welcoming of diversity just can’t happen until we shrink and de-center our voices. We also know that expanding community and welcoming newcomers requires right-sizing our needs and putting our preferences second.


Welcoming regularly involves the smallness of humility and willingness to listen and learn. The great spiritual teachers remind us that the key to feeling at home in the universe is seeing ourselves as a tiny but precious part of a greater whole, rather than believing that the whole world revolves around us.

Downsizing and living simply allows us to welcome in more experience, adventure and peace.  And, of course, there’s also the work of downsizing our egos enough to admit mistakes, ask for forgiveness and welcome in the work of repair.

Bottom line:  There is a deep spiritual connection between the smallness of self and the expansiveness of relationship. It’s a curious and wonderful truth:  the road to widening the circle often starts with limiting our own size. By becoming “smaller,” we paradoxically are better able to welcome in and receive the gift of “more.”