Recept1Before the curtain rises on a play, the performance has already begun. Even the audience is “acting.” There’s a whisper, a buzz, a giggle, a crackle of paper as someone unfolds their program. Someone else is now stepping over my feet on the way to his seat. As the curtain rises, so does our excitement. “Shhhhh!”

The Reception was just like that. The executive milled around a table covered with name tags. Tired from travel and organizing, anxious about G20, they wondered and worried: “The ship is about to be launched. Are the passengers going to show up?”

And then they began to arrive, floating in ones and twos and threes. The stillness became a whisper. The trickle became a stream. Soon, more familiar faces swam into view, beaming. Circulating, we met, renewed, embraced friends, old and new. Some of us roamed. Some of us sat, rooted, and let them come to us. And they did.

The whisper rose to a boisterous river of joy.

The setting was magnificent, befitting a magnificent celebration. A grateful thought for Sylvia: “Oh, didn’t she arrange it well!” And this was no commonplace “wine’n’cheese”! Had we not been so well brought up, we’d have stuffed our pockets with hors-d’oeuvres. Real hors-d’oeuvres. Thank you STLHE!

Alex moved us masterfully, gracious and witty – an MC, a host, a navigator, a captain. Bless you, Alex.

Recept2Smoothly, exhaustion fell away. In fact, we didn’t have enough time! Many friends were escaping as the evening drifted to a close, but it only served to make us eager for Wednesday, for chances to find the friends who floated past us at the reception.

The evening wore on, and as the room grew quieter, a sure and grateful confidence returned, the familiar jolt of energy we felt those long months ago when this Jubilee was only a gleam in our eyes. For Tuesday evening, it was enough to be grinning from ear to ear. “I think we can do it! I think we’ve done it!”

We had no idea what lay in store for us on Wednesday.

Of course, since before the 16th century, a “reception” has been a “ceremonial gathering.” From French, “reception” has always meant “the act of welcoming.” There’s another delicious wrinkle, though. 14th-century Astrologers used “reception” in a fascinating way. Those old chaps prophesied what happened to us on Tuesday evening: “Reception is when planets are mutually positioned in each other’s essential dignities.”

If this sounds a bit mysterious, remember I was sitting with Louise Halfe, our guest speaker. She felt our good will. She smiled. “I am among friends, good-hearted ones,” she whispered. Planet 3M Canada, Planet Students, and Planet 3M National Teaching Fellows – for a day and a half, we rediscovered what teaching means: Essential Dignities.

–Ron Marken