While driving home the other day, a couple mylar balloons blowing in the wind caught my eye. They were attached to an iron gate in front of a home flanking a large handmade sign attached to the gate. On the sign was written only three simple words, “Welcome Home Nicholas.”
Maybe because I have every since I was a child created such signs for various occasions or maybe it was because I am a story man, I started to think of the person who created the sign, for whom it was intended and the occasion around this “happening.”
At first I thought that Nicholas could be a baby boy born to whomever lived in the home on which the sign was displayed. But then I thought, had that been the case, there probably would have been baby images and lots of baby blue color used, as is traditional. Whatever it was, I wasn’t getting the feeling that it was a baby coming into the world.
My second thought was that Nicholas was in the United States Armed Forces and that he was returning home from service. This thought lead me to think that chances are that Nicholas had been injured and perhaps this was the reason he was returning home.
Injury lead me to think of illness, and the possibility that Nicholas was not a service man at all, but a brother, a son, a friend, who had a debilitating disease and had spent much time in the hospital with surgeries and recovery and was finally, “coming home.”
Even without finishing my thoughts as to who Nicholas was and what the circumstances where that he was away and now was returning home, my thought went to the moment when Nicholas first saw the sign. I was thinking along with the sign, that moment was filled with smiles, hugs, perhaps even tears of joy and lots of love. My mind watched Nicholas and his family or friends walking with him into the home with arms around him and everybody present trying to share stories or ask questions of Nicholas at the same time.
I could see someone potentially buying food or making food, perhaps a cake and drinks, and possibly Nicholas’ favorite foods, snacks or drinks. Or especially if the family or friends of Nicholas are of an ethnic culture, they may have traditional foods or deserts they make at special occasions. There may be more decorations inside the home and particular music playing. Someone might have even gotten dressed for the occasion, sexily if it was a wife or girlfriend, or the family may have dressed in their “Sunday” best.
Having been on both sides of those kinds of situations in the past, my heart filled with joy as I created this story surrounding the “returning home” of Nicholas and the potential circumstances around it, all the while, not having a clue as to who Nicholas was.
And as I thought about Nicholas and his family and friends I was reflecting on how important that moment, or this day was for them. In fact, at moments like this, I remember feeling like this was the most important thing that could be happening, a loved one “coming home.” And yet, the thought came to me, that “I” had not heard about it.
This big important, happy and loving event that potentially brought so much joy to someone or a group of people so much joy that they possibly couldn’t stop smiling and perhaps touching, filled with so much more love that most people feel in a normal day, was probably not reported in any way and no one knew it, most likely, but the people it was happening to in that moment.
No one judged the event; no one won a medal from it. No money was most likely exchanged; no tickets were sold to spectators.
Though I could draw many lessons from this, for the moment, I took these two thoughts home with me.
Some of the most important things that happen in our lives happen without anyone else knowing about it. But because we are so used to getting graded, judged, paid, praised, voted, approved of, etc., we tend to neglect those truly important moments, and put more attention on those moments that get more “artificial” attention.
Secondly, no matter who Nicholas is, there is someone or a group of people, a tribe, so to speak, who loves him enough to “Welcome Home Nicholas.” And though he may not mean anything to anyone else in the world, he means something to someone who loves him so much that they are beside themselves and don’t know what else to do, to make sure Nicholas feels welcomed home.
I resolved to give more attention to those special moments that happen without anyone noticing, or between myself and another or even a handful of others, and to cultivate my tribe more, and let them know I love them and that I welcome them in my life and heart.