Throughout life we gravitate toward belonging. Not just welcome, kindness or even love, but actual belonging. Those relationships where if we weren’t a part, something would be deeply missing.
Many of us find such a place in our families. I know I do. A place where I matter and what I do has an impact, good and bad. I am loved. I am cherished. I belong. When I am absent, either in person or simply in presence, it is felt, commented on…and yea, in my family mocked ;).
But even when we find that type of belonging in our family systems I think many (and maybe all) of us still long to cultivate it in other spheres of our lives as well; places like work, hobbies, church, and even gyms. For myself a deep sense of belonging came during my seminary years. I had the privilege and the pleasure of cultivating a support system of belonging with nine other women all taking that seminary road…all to very different places.
This week I will join them all for our annual Irreverent Revs retreat and as we always do, we will over buy La Croix and wine, share in devotions, yoga, worship, healing art and my personal favorite…a book study! This year we ended up reading a book that strikes at so many of the themes and topics in our daily lives: sexism, race, social justice, family ties, boundaries, making a lasting impact on our world and belonging. This year we read Alice Walker’s powerful collection of non-fiction, “In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens.”
I am overjoyed to be reading this book and Walker herself beside a group of women in who I have found a profound sense of belonging in all my glory and horror. Walker dives into the tough questions of being human, a woman, a mother, an artist, a citizen of America and of the world and she never pulls any of her punches (kindof like this group of extraordinary women). In Walker I found an honest, open and fully vulnerable conversation partner. One who calls me out, not to shame or judge (though I felt those things) but in love. Longing for me, for society, for all of us to do better. It wasn’t sunshine and rainbows, but it was true, it was real and it was transformational. There is nothing more I can ask of a writer, a conversation, a friend. In the end I came away from Walker’s compilation with hope for (if not in) humanity.
We can do better! We can find and curate places of belonging where we can be honest with ourselves and make the changes necessary to change the world. It won’t be easy, most of the time it will require us to look in the mirror but when you do so with trusted people to whom who belong, we can have the courage and the audacity to transforms the world, together. And in right there is hope…for us all. So find your place of belonging and dare to do better, and perhaps let Alice Walker lead the way.
Happy reading everyone!
Goodreads Review of “In Search of Our Mother’s Garden”