I am a considerer of words. In that I often pick a word or two to focus on for a while. I have two words for this year, 2018. I chose three words for Lent. And currently two words come to mind. Words I find myself contemplating often:
community and belonging
They go hand in hand, right? To belong is to be part of a community. In thinking further, I realize most people have different communities they are a part of. Not just one. I find that mine are interconnected. Meaning there are people who cross over. Yesterday I probably saw ten people who are just that…cross over people.
I have also thought much recently about place. Place as in actual physical location.
Do you ever ask yourself the “who are the 4 people I’d invite to have lunch with me if I could” question? The people you’d like to meet and ask questions. People you admire or perhaps they are an expert in a field you work in or are interested in. Maybe famous artists or musicians? When I think through who I’d likely include, they are all women and they all have a commonality in that they have a particular place they have created or are associated with. A farm. A ranch. A beach house. An urban dwelling. A school. It’s not just that I am interested in who they are and what they do. I am, but it’s beyond that. They have taken a little piece of the world and made it part of their identity. And I find that compelling.
So actually there are there words I’ve been concentrating on as of late.
I have many reasons for this. Some of which would most likely bore you if you don’t think along the same lines I do. Some of the reasons are personal. Some of the reasons come from life experiences.
I’m reading a Henri Nouwen book that asks ten questions. One of them is
Where do I belong?
I know people who can answer that easily. And I know others who believed they knew and now their world has been turned upside down. Plus lots of people in-between the two extremes.
We end up where we end up for a variety of reasons. You’re probably smart enough to know that. Jobs. College choices. Family. Running away from something. Running to something. Some of us are afforded more freedom in our choices. I’ve always wondered why everyone doesn’t live in Hawaii. The clamoring though. Comfort in ones surroundings. People who don’t just know your name but truly know you. And want you around. Having a role to fill. But at the same time having a specific physical locale to call your own. I’m not just talking home ownership. Although in a way I am. Maybe ownership in the sense of personal possession. Claiming the right to be. There. Not in an obligation sense only. But in wanting to be responsible for what has been given to you.
It’s a lot to think about. For me anyway. Others don’t seem to have the same struggle. I suppose years of shared space followed by a sudden freedom can cause one to consider.
I was at a place yesterday. A specific place with a name. And there were people there who loved the place. The ground and the trees. The buildings. They love the people who are also associated with the place. They share a history. Memories. Recollections. Highs and lows. Only a smattering of people are there all the time. Yet people come and go and I doubt there are many who don’t enjoy being there, while they’re there.
I was at a celebration last evening. Again, held at a specific place because that’s generally how a celebration works. And the words I listed above come back to mind…community…belonging…place. I feel as though I do indeed belong in that particular place…part of the community gathered there. And that’s a good feeling. A grounding point. From there though, I ask myself to expound. Because I cannot exist solely in that exact space.
My daughter moved yesterday. She has secured an apartment for the summer. She moved from Manhattan to Brooklyn. I’m proud of her. She knew she needed to make this move. For a variety of reasons, one being her own well being. So a few months before turning twenty years old, she woke up and traversed a short distance in miles to whole new surroundings. At least for the summer ahead. I admire her. She sought out and secured her place. Now I believe she’ll find community and a sense of belonging as well, if she hasn’t already.
I believe I’ve included this quote more than once in blog posts. But hey, it fits this one so I’ll close with it. I’ll also add I’d definitely have lunch with Wendell Berry.
The place doesn’t care if you love it. But for your sake you had better love it. For the sake of all else you love, you had better love it….from Hannah Coulter, a novel by Wendell Berry.
A few posts back I included a bit of a song contest of sorts. The winner…middle school math teacher extraordinaire who is also a drummer extraordinaire and who was quite possibly born in the same hospital room as me (albeit it a few months earlier)…you know who you are (I think!). Good job. If I in fact knew your mailing address, I’d send you $10.
I do not have a song contest this time around but I will include a few lines from a song which fits the theme of today’s entry…and was also included in the above mentioned contest…
You belong among the wildflowers
You belong in a boat out at sea
Sail away, kill off the hours
You belong somewhere you feel free
~ Tom Petty
The Henri Nouwen book mentioned above is Spiritual Direction.