I take each envelope into my hand. Lay down a stripe of washi tape, affix a colorful label. I am preparing. Nothing else is ready yet. Not the schedules, or the notices, or the campus maps. But I want to sit with each person somehow, a little. So I prep.
Now, a week later, I handle them again. Pick each one up, slide in the schedule, the photography waiver, a strip of stickers. One, two threeâ€¦ I pile them in neat stacks of ten, until I get to 50. I am done.
Then two days later I remember. Thereâ€™s something else to be tucked insideâ€”a tiny book, a wisdom keeper. I touch each one for a third time, adding the energy, layering on the love. One, two, threeâ€¦They are getting fatter now, plump with anticipation. And the stacks must be alternated lest they slide off the desk, and avalanche of undone effort..
Then the package comes and I remember. Swag. Little gifts from one of my co-conspirators. So the box of envelopes comes out again, and again I handle each one. Sliding a love note inside.
And once more, a surprise bonus as a new teacher offers her wares gratis â€œbecause I believe in togetherness.â€ So the announcement goes in. Extra! Extra! More food for the soul.
On Friday, theyâ€™ll be touched again at check-in, handed like a wafer across the table. A sign of welcome. A badge to belong.
It strikes me, this strange thing, to be much like the ritual I once held. Kneading prayers into bread. Punching it down. Kneading again. Waiting while it rises, infused with touch. Laying hands on it, to push it in the oven, to pull it out. To set it on the cooling rack, on the serving plate, on the table. And then once more, to break. To take. To eat.
All around the mulberry bush. All around the table. All around the circus tent.
Gather round. Step right up.
Something wonderful this way comes.
If you cannot be with us this weekend at the Soul Sisters gathering, take heart. There are ways to connect on line, to have a virtual hand to hold, and plans for future gatherings of the clan. (You are not alone.)