Communities foster connection. Connection fosters communities.
This past Sunday both of these statements were confirmed for me and then I took this confirmation to my classroom today. I was leaving church at 8:20am on Sunday and he shakes my hand, “Thank you for worshipping with us this morning.” I reply with, “thank you (read that again with a confirming tone of voice).
I already felt at peace with the homily and guidance for the day and yet at this moment I felt something else. Maybe it was a sense of joy. Maybe it was a sigh of relief I survived shaking his hand. Maybe it was letting go of a worry thought – do I really belong to or in this large congregation. As I exited the church, I was glad I shook his hand. I think the verbal and physical touch was an invitation to return. I felt grounded a bit.
I’ve read a few pieces on social media lately about greeting students at the door and all the benefits this simple act can foster. I learned this while studying to become a teacher. I wish I could tell you I’ve pulled it off every day for my twenty some years of teaching. I haven’t. There’s been something to set up. There’s been a meeting to attend. There’s been a classroom chore to do.
It’s a new year; I’ve missed my students, and I wanted them to feel how I felt leaving church on Sunday – content, welcomed, and noticed. So, there I was this morning standing outside the classroom door waiting for my first arrival.
“Good Morning Jackson. It’s so nice to see you this morning.” Arms outstretched wide waiting to see if he takes the bait and comes in for a hug. Score, my first hug of the day! Twenty one hugs and two handshakes later my heart was full. Each squeeze released happiness. Only one grumpy face walked through the door. After being off for two weeks, we had the best first hour of our day ever!
That morning greeting created a connection and embraced reentering our community. We had a great first day back and I hope your return to school as gone as equally as well.