Al Mina’s restaurant scene was busy and peaceful. The usual competition to capture patrons was there, but even this activity had a civil edge. With the recent construction and launch, everything was fresh, clean, and inviting. I could feel the positive vibe. As I reflected on all that was contributing to this, I could see the obvious. Each restaurant was filled with an amazing mix of people. They appeared to represent a wide range of cultures, backgrounds, and attitudes. Dressy to very casual, culturally appropriate to naïve, and couples to extended family groups.
The reality of the scene’s inclusiveness could not be ignored. I found myself considering the lessons on display that evening and again as I face the day ahead.
Inclusive spaces feel and look different. The welcome mat was out. Reservations had been replaced by open invitations. Exclusiveness was buried, replaced with the smiles and laughter one usually finds when the family gathers. Whatever one might think of reserved attitudes had been replaced by something quite different. Candidly, “Do you think for a minute that this blessing is only pronounced over those of us who keep our religious ways and are circumcised? Or do you think it possible that the blessing could be given to those who never even heard of our ways, who were never brought up in the disciplines of God? We all agree, don’t we, that it was by embracing what God did for him that Abraham was declared fit before God?” (Romans 4.9)
Inclusiveness starts at the centre. The process was being modelled, collectively and in each establishment. One could see it and, even better, experience it personally. In being included, I found myself holding an unexpected gift of acceptance and sense of belonging. Every question was answered with a warm smile. Each inquiry was handled with care.
Inclusiveness is more than words; it is grounded in action. It is hard to imagine how different establishments were able to deliver a consistent message and experience.
Today is my opportunity to bring others into the joy of compassion, care, and community.