RSVP: to respond to an invitation, or in French: respondez s’il vous plait.  Everything sounds better in French, doesn’t it? It seems a simple thing, you receive an invitation, a request to be present or participate, are you planning to attend? Please RSVP.  Of course, we humans are not always very good at keeping it simple. Do I want to go to Snarky Susan’s Christmas party? Should I go even if I don’t want to because the party would be good for meeting new business clients? If I don’t want to go what excuse can I give? Or worst of all, I didn’t even get an invitation to the most important party of the year, I can’t RSVP because nobody loves me and I am terminally unpopular.

Johnny, a first grader,  is not asked to RSVP to first grade. He is expected to answer “present” when his name is called. When you have major surgery scheduled, the surgeon does not send an invitation and ask you to RSVP.  You best be present and ready for the surgery. In fact, many medical or dental offices expect you to cancel at least 24 hours before your appointment, or you may end up with a cancellation penalty. If your boss says the meeting is mandatory, he or she is not asking you to RSVP.  Be present or risk being asked to not be present permanently.

The wording on social invitations, like weddings, usually says  “We request the honor of your presence at…. Please RSVP by this date.” So it is the “ honor of your presence” that the RSVP answers. How often do we think our presence is an honor? Or that someone is honoring us by their presence? We are devastated by betrayal from our loved ones, and we say in effect “ … but you RSVP’d and you said you would be present for me and now you are not.” I like the sound of “ the honor of your presence”. How do I show honor to someone? I think it means showing up, and being present for another. As in: “to regard or treat (someone) with respect and admiration, to show admiration for someone or (something) in a public way, or to do what is required by a promise or a contract, or the center point of the upper half of an armorial escutcheon.”  ( Wait!  Scratch that last definition,  because I don’t have a clue what it means.)  So the bride and groom are requesting the honor of our presence so they can honor the presence of each other..  When we are truly present and honoring each other, we have sent a RSVP to accept the invitation to love.

If we are paying attention, life extends many invitations to each of us and we have many opportunities to RSVP, to accept or decline. We can accept the invitations that help us to be our best selves and decline those which encourage us to be less than. Sometimes invitations are sent several times and we may RSVP a different response at different times in our lives. Will you be present and honor your life? Please RSVP.

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