What beck’ning ghost, along the moonlight shade
Invites my steps, and points to yonder glade?
IT’S A SPLENDID THING TO BE “INVITED.” Sometimes it is not a person who invites us but simply a circumstance or a situation that seems “inviting,” but in any case, the things in life that draw us into new experience and new growth should be seen as blessings.
When there is an element of mystery, the very intrigue of the invitation is a great part of what delights us. Deep down, I think most of us can relate to Bilbo Baggins’ regret on the morning after the “unexpected party” in J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. Having refused the dwarves’ invitation the night before to join their quest, he awoke strangely sad that they had left without him, and he quickly changed his mind and ran after them . . . without his pocket handkerchief!
Life is full of invitations. Indeed, with the dawning of each new day, we are invited to embrace life enthusiastically. In Emerson’s words, “This day is all that is good and fair. It is too dear, with its hopes and invitations, to waste a moment on the yesterdays.”
Yet we must be careful. Not every invitation is one that should be accepted. When we are being lured or enticed to do what is wrong, we must say no. Temptation must be resisted, for that is precisely what temptation is: an invitation or enticement to wrongdoing. That type of invitation should be emphatically stamped “Return to Sender.”
But when invitations are innocent, we should be open to their call, even when they require courage. We can’t spend our lives in a cave, hiding from every sort of uncertainty or inconvenience. And we dare not waste life by neglecting its opportunities. So every person needs to ask himself, “How easily invited am I? When life is entreating me to follow a better path, am I receptive or resistant?”
And while we’re asking questions, let’s each ask ourselves another one: “In dealing with other human beings, do I do more inviting or commanding?” A good bit of what happens in the world involves somebody trying to persuade somebody else to do something. So what’s it like for others when we are the ones doing the persuading? Would they say our favorite tool is the invitation or the command?
“. . . her mien carries much more invitation than command” (Richard Steele).