John O’Donohue states, “Longing is the deepest and most ancient voice in the human soul. It is the secret source of all presence, and the driving force of all creativity and imagination: longing keeps the door open and calls towards us the gifts and blessings which our lives dream” (Eternal Echoes, pgs. 72,73). There is this call that comes from the depths of our being. The call is the one of longing and that longing leads to belonging. It is longing that keeps urging us forward from and out of the depths of our being. Why is it so important, valuable and vital, to our sense of wholeness in Christ? Longing is what strengthens and intensifies all of our creativity and imagination. Longing is what calls us toward our dreams, our desire to be, our yearning to create, to be a part of something viable and life giving. Longing brings desire and that desire is what causes us to pursue God. That longing will cause us to pursue our future mate, or a closer, more intimate relationship with a trusted friend. That longing for our spouse is what causes us to be creative and intentional with our ways of showing affection and telling them we love them. That longing is what draws us to pursue our dearest friend, Jesus, and find contentment, peace and fulfillment of our desire to fill the emptiness of our being. Only Jesus can truly fill that hole in us – longing draws us toward him and our yearning for intimacy is met in him. Longing can help us find better ways to accomplish the task at hand or, perhaps, it draws us toward that place where we are able to use our gifts and proclivities at work or in the community of believers, so that God is seen in what we do or say. Longing gives credence to our uniqueness and the ever-changing landscape and facets of our belonging that come from daily paying attention to the voice of God and the desire of our longing.
Parker Palmer stated, “But an authentic spirituality of action will celebrate our desire and capacity to co-create the world with the gifts we have been given” (The Active Life, pg. 65). Image bearers. We are co-creators with the Trinity because of the work of Christ that has taken place in us by identifying with his death on the Cross, and his resurrection and victory over death and the grave. It is time that we celebrate that we are co-creators – we are infused with the same power that Christ had – Jesus gave it to us. He had this power at Creation – it was present from the very first “Let Light Be.” That same power is part of our DNA, because the blood of Jesus flows through our veins. It was placed within us at our new birth. It brings with it the gifts each of us need to be what God designed for us to be from our beginning place of belonging; it is woven into the very fabric of our being. It permeates all of our belonging and the works of faith and love we do as part of our journey and experience of belonging.
Palmer also cites, “Action that distances us from ‘the other’ can never be right; we cannot do good by standing back and pulling levers that drop down bounty on people who need it. Right action can be only an immersion of ourselves in reality, an immersion that involves us in relationship, that takes us to our place in the organic nature of things” (The Active Life, pg. 84). Decisions and actions that cause separation, that put distance between us and others, or that self-elevate us to a “superior” place, are not right and are detrimental to us – not only to our state of being but also to our state of belonging. We place ourselves in a position or place of belonging that is skewed and debilitating. It places us in a “better-than” box and true love, true relationship, are greatly altered and the sense of belonging for all involved is altered. It no longer is belonging in a pure sense because it hinders the “intimate unity of belonging.” Please remember these are my contemplative thoughts, how they cause me to look at others and myself. In my journey, as I have read these things, I must meditate on what they mean to me. This is something new I am learning on my journey with God – to sit more often with them and listen to them, asking what it is they would like to teach me and then how to apply it more deeply to my life. I will admit this last year of my life has been transformative and enlightening. Some of the dark things I have found in myself have been painful to find but yet wonderfully exhilarating to be liberated from them. In our longing to belong, only by remaining in the present of our journey, by staying vulnerable and open, first of all, to ourselves and then others, can we truly find our place of belonging, our place of being; seeing fruit from the gift and gifts of our lives.
Our belonging can also be aided by the fact that we are in tune with ourselves and know the mystery of learning how to guard our thought life while allowing our thoughts to take life and create with an assurance that we have been hearing the cry of our heart to use our gifts. O’Donohue states, “Your mind is the double mirror of the outer world and of your inner world. It is always making pictures of things. If you lost your mind, you would lose your world as well. Your mind is so precious and vulnerable precisely because it holds your world” (Eternal Echoes, pg. 94). Our minds are always actively at work. It is vital for us to be precise and deliberate about what it is that enters our thoughts, our mind, whether by what we read, or allow to bombard our eye gates. Most often what we see the most of, is what tends to fill our thoughts. It is essential for us to read God’s word, studying it, meditating on it, speaking it over ourselves, and allow it to wash over our spirits like we use soap and water to cleanse our bodies. Read books that will aid our growth in line with what God’s Word speaks to us. Listen with open hearts and minds. Let it strengthen your sense of belonging. Why is this so imperatively necessary? It will transform your life, enhance your sense of belonging, give clarity to the song of your life, and help to fulfill the purpose of life you have been given.
Our thoughts are what define us. They make us successful or keep us bound to failure, depression, or defeat. In the whole of the universe, nothing compares with our longing to belong, to be connected to the divine, to know God and be known of God. How can we disassociate from it? We cannot. O’Donohue stated, “The secret immensity of the soul is the longing for the divine. This is not simply a haunted desire for an absent, distant divine presence that is totally different from us. Our longing is passionate and endless because the divine calls us home to presence. Our longing is an echo of the divine longing for us. Our longing is the living imprint of divine desire. This desire lives in each of us in that ineffable space in the heart where nothing else can satisfy or still us” (Eternal Echoes, pg. 96). That presence comes from our belonging; can only be found in union with our Creator and our God. It originates in the depths of our being, emanates from the depths of that being and connects us in and with the ever growing expanse of belonging that is discovered in the community of the body of Christ. That divine presence reaches into us and calls forth the identity that is ours, that resides deep in our spirit. That identity is formed by the God we worship. Now some might say this is true in pursuing the darker side of things. And that can be true. Yet with that pursuit, there is always something lacking, missing, yearning for release while we are walking in darkness. Light reveals all that the dark desires to conceal. Light shines on everything – that which is valuable and also the ignoble in us. Light shines, illuminating all in its area of influence, causing us to look at ourselves with new eyes and to accept or reject what we have revealed to us. We choose how much darkness has an effect on us. Light helps heal, darkness casts shadow over us – over what we hold onto and which we allow to hinder us from reaching our place of destiny and identity.
Now, granted there are seasons where we go through shadow and darkness, times of wilderness, but they do not define us, rather they draw us closer to the place where belonging is realized and life transforms us and depth of intimacy is increased - if we allow it. Always light is there to guide us through to places of strength, places of love, places of life. I know this to be true for I have been there and know that there are times still to come. Times and seasons that will draw me closer, where the deep desires of my longing are revealed and the realization of the value and worth that are mine in belonging to God are intimately known and more fully understood. Please accept the following blessings and read them often to allow the sense of belonging to wash over you and fill you with courage, creativity, and comfort:
Blessed be the longing that brought you here and that
quickens your soul with wonder.
May you have the courage to befriend your eternal
May you enjoy the critical and creative companionship of
the question “Who am I?” and may it brighten your
May a secret Providence guide your thought and shelter
May your mind inhabit your life with the same sureness
with which your body belongs to the world.
May the sense of something absent enlarge your life.
May your soul be as free as the ever-new waves of the sea.
May you succumb to the danger of growth.
May you live in the neighborhood of wonder.
May you belong to love with the wildness of Dance.
May you know that you are ever embraced in the kind
circle of God.
(Eternal Echoes, pg. 50)