Have you ever felt warmly welcomed by someone?
It feels good, doesn’t it? Some people know how to do this, quite instinctively. They know the small touches that make you, the visitor, feel you matter, that you are valued and special.
If you pause for a moment, I’m sure you can recollect someone who is a natural welcomer.
When the weather is cold and harsh, such a person is pure gold. I met someone like this, a complete stranger, when I was in my 20s and travelling far from home.
In the dark of winter
It was late afternoon in 1964 and I was shivering with cold. Perched on the back of our motor scooter, I leaned into the man I’d recently married, and held on tight. The road to Weissenburg, in the middle of Germany, took us over a high, exposed plateau where rain blasted our faces and an icy wind seemed intent on lacerating every limb. Winter had come early, and we’d been caught out.
We decided to turn back and find the youth hostel in Eichstatt, even though originally we’d thought to avoid it because it looked like a forbidding military institution.
It was dark as we drove through the imposing stone gates. No lights could be seen anywhere. The whole enormous, faceless building was shut up, and our hearts sank.
We were desperate for shelter; hungry, cold and tired as we searched for an entrance. Finally, guided by a dim light, we found some workmen in a small hut. They directed us to a wooden door round the back, where we knocked without hope.
‘Come in! It’s not closed’. The door was flung open by the warden. We were ushered in to sit at a wooden table by a blazing fire. His wife spoke good English, and with a cheerful smile, she asked about our journey and made sure we were comfortable.
This was a 70 bed hostel, and like all youth hostels in those days, was divided into separate dorms for male and female. Surprisingly, no-one else was there, and she showed us into a double room which we could share as special guests. I was close to tears by the time we returned to the table.
In front of us she placed two white mugs.
Into them she poured a steaming pink liquid from a large teapot. What could it be? I’d never seen anything like it, but it looked and smelt beautiful. As I sipped the sweet, clear liquid, I felt I was drinking nectar from the gods.
What was it?
‘Malven-tee’, she said.
In those pre-Google days, before herb teas filled the supermarket shelves, it took years before I finally discovered what I’d been drinking: it was hibiscus tea. The health benefits of hibiscus have been known since ancient times, but to me the best health benefit was the loving welcome and good cheer that filled my cup.
The couple treated us like family. As we drove away the next morning, my bag filled with little packets of Malven-tee, and a note for their friend at the next hostel, I felt warm, happy and not so far from home after all.
How do you create a welcome for someone?
Maybe you do this with a warm drink, setting up flowers and preparing a bed with fresh sheets for a house guest, then cooking a delicious meal. These are great ways to make someone feel wanted and at home.
But welcome also begins on the inside, in the heart.
I’ll be exploring this aspect in the Sacred Art of Ritual course. Learning how to centre ourselves in the heart is the first step in ensuring that we are available to others, and to the sacred.
There is another kind of welcome that springs from the heart, and that’s the one you give to your own self.
How do you welcome in your own self?
Sometimes we hide from ourselves, or disconnect. We become like that blank-faced building in Eichstatt. But our deeper selves may lie in hiding around the back or in some hidden recess.
Winter is the season for coaxing those lost parts back into connection.
Dormancy serves its purpose, but as winter progresses, it’s time to reconnect with what has been sleeping. This is where your potential lies. Reconnecting is an essential step in the self-welcoming process so that you can be ready to attend to the new life stirring within.
This is why I’ve created something new for you. It’s been a while since I’ve offered my Seasonal Attunements, because I’ve been busy teaching the online courses, but I have good news!
The Attunements will now be available as an ‘evergreen’ offering.
What does this mean? Starting with the Winter Attunement, I have created a package comprising the recording and a pdf of supporting materials. The Winter Attunement will be available for you to experience as a home ritual, at a time that suits you.
Late winter, the long haul when energy tends to dip, is the ideal time to welcome yourself in from the cold and delve into the gifts that winter is holding for you.
You can click here to find out more.
Whether you decide to take up these offerings or not, I wish you warm experiences of welcome. Maybe you will create a special greeting for a loved one, and maybe someone will do it for you.
Blessings, and a sip of Malven-tee,
One kind word can warm three winter months.
This blog is an excerpt from the Seasons Newsletter. To receive the Newsletter, you may sign up on the home page of this website and receive a free audio meditation.