The word ‘belonging’ has been circling, for attention, and praise. What does it mean to belong? Why does it matter? And how do we cultivate it?
I think of the intimacy of belonging to our own physicality. It is an inhabitation of our own particulars; our curves and mounds, our gait and the spaces where our limbs collide. It is an awareness too of our skin as both border and as porous membrane—protector and gateway as one. Belonging in that sense is not a fixed state but an invitation to participate in our own embodied vibrancy as a living being. To belong is to dance, to move, to open arms in gestures of embrace and to celebrate the act of celebration itself.
So I think of belonging as in invitation too. To belong to a tribe, a family, or a community is to be open to receiving ‘the other’, and a willingness to be changed by that encounter. I am who I am only in relationship. Reciprocity of being is encoded into each exchange- whether my encounter is with another human being or with the more-than human world, for I can only belong in connection to the eco-systems which help to define and cultivate me. It takes a village. Always.
And I think of our belonging as a response to our own indigenosity to the earth. With our presence here we are granted prescience; may we use it to see we are all stewards; guests to a deeper, longer ecology of time and cosmos. Belonging, in that sense, comes with a responsibility – to safe-guard, protect, commune and in doing so become more of who we are.
But how can we protect that which we feel we don’t belong? How can we love that which we feel estranged from? Perhaps the first steps is to come home to our feet on the earth, and our breath in the air, and our water in the rivers, and the ocean in our blood. We are all in perpetual cycle. To belong is to live fully with this interconnected knowledge too.
How can you cultivate a deeper sense of belonging today? What do you need to invite or welcome in for you to foster a more intimate, reciprocal relationship to the community around you?