I facilitate five support groups in my work role at the Epilepsy Foundation of Michigan, and this is one of my favorite aspects of the job. Each group has its own character, and I enjoy the ways they collectively create the experience. Four groups meet over Zoom, and one meets over a conference call. This particular group enjoys connecting over the phone. They were the first group we ever organized, and it has our largest participation. Though a conference call may seem behind the times for this era, they enjoy it like this, and they make it a deep and meaningful opportunity for connection. In fact, this group calls itself a chosen family, and its members show up in each others lives in beautiful ways, including rhythms of calling each other throughout the week.
All of this is lovely. And as I shared, full of character: There’s a fun, silly practice that this group does week to week, and I’ve been pondering this sweet, simple act of care. When people are signing into the conference call, I can see who is about to join on a computer screen. Their name emerges on the screen about five seconds before we hear the beep announcing their arrival. In that time, I’ll tell the people already on the line, “Here comes [Name].”
And we wait in silence.
“Hi, [Name]!” says everyone in unison and with gusto.
We call it surprise-partying.
Depending on when they emerge, [Name] gets somewhere between 5-15 people greeting them playfully and enthusiastically.
And this is a small thing, but in this era in which we live, it can feel so lovely to be greeted with joy in a way that genuinely conveys, “Everyone is glad that you are here.”
Each group has character, and I love this one.