One of the many things I love about C.C. is he enjoys entertaining as much as I do. Last night was no exception. We were eight for dinner. My sister J.T. and her husband, and two other couples.
The evening began with a bang when one of the guests sat on an antique wooden chair and it collapsed beneath him. Fortunately, he wasn't hurt though he did have to put up with our laughter and teasing for the rest of the evening. He managed to do it with equanimity and grace -- though he did keep repeating everything he said three times!
What struck me last night was the sense of familiarity. As though that scene was one I'd experienced many times in my life. It felt like a place where I belong.
Belonging and what it means -- to Be and to Long for something -- has always fascinated me. My parents' nomadic lifestyle uprooted us several times, two of them across the Atlantic to distant shores. For my mother, those journeys took her to a place where she found her 'belonging', at home amidst her familial roots, at home with the language and culture of her birth. I've often wondered where my father found his sense of belonging. At the age of nine he was 'sent away', across the sea and further yet across Canada to Gravelburg, Saskatchewan where he attended a Jesuit school. It was a long way from his home in London. For a child, that uprooting left him without family, without a home where he belonged. Perhaps that is why he held his family so close to his heart. He filled his longing for belonging in the familial structure he had never known growing up.
John O'Donohue, Celtic poet, scholar and philosopher speaks to what he calls the deepest calling of our soul: the longing to belong, in his book, Eternal Echoes: Celtic Reflections on Our Yearning to Belong. He says, "To be human is to belong. Belonging is a circle that embraces everything; if we reject it, we damage our nature. The word 'belonging' holds together the two fundamental aspects of life: Being and Longing, the longing of our Being and the being of our Longing."
In the Tao, everything is connected to everything. As humans, we are connected through the act of creation and the rites of passage we must all travel to come into this world. We arrive, unaware of the importance of our being part of the human race, of the significance of our soul's journey in relation to the world around us. As we grow, we begin to find the meaning, or maybe not, in our journey. We begin to understand our soul's yearning for belonging and look for ways to soothe the ache of not always knowing where we belong.
Sometimes, we know little of what we must do to feel like we belong because we've never known a sense of belonging. And sometimes, in our attempts to break free of places where we don't belong, we carve out our own unique place in the world that keeps us apart and unsettles our belonging. We can't see in our struggle that where we belong is not dependent upon where our roots were set, or where our familial bonds kept us captive. Where we belong is where our spirits find peace and comfort. Belonging is not a place. It is the spirit's voice within us, calling us home to our soul's journey back to where we were always meant to be, back home within ourselves.
One of the couples last night spoke of their roots set deep into the prairie soils generations ago. T.A.'s family came to these lands as homesteaders four generations ago. D.A. doesn't question how deep her roots are. As far back as the family stories are told, her family has always lived upon these lands.
Deep roots. A known sense of belonging. A being at one with the lands that support her, ground her and give her life rich and vibrant meaning.
As I sat at the table with evening light deepening into night, candle light casting a golden glow upon the smiling faces gathered around me, I felt my belonging settle into knowing.
This is where I belong. Gathered around a table laden with food and wine and surrounded by loving people. A place where friends meet to exchange stories and laughter. A place where caring for each other deepens as we see each other in the light of friendship strengthening with our shared experiences.
In creating an environment for others to find a place where they belong, a place to come home to for however long they stay, my longing to be accepted is soothed, my yearning for belonging eased.
It is here I belong, in this place called home, a place where I am free to be me, in all my beauty, warts and all. A place where C.C. and I grow together as our unique and individual journey homeward frees us to be all we're meant to be. As we create memories that belong to the unique story of our love growing ever deeper, we become rooted in the truth of who we are, together and apart.
This is my place to belong. My place to come home to. This is my soul's journey into love with all I am and all I can be when I am at home where I belong within me. It is here that love grows. It is here I belong.
The question is: Are you at home longing for belonging, or have you come home to the wonder and joy of being right where you belong?