I lived in the Pacific Northwest for one year. Everything was so big out there: the trees were so tall, the rivers so wide, the waterfalls so high, the ocean enormous, and there were mountains, too! I laughed with joy and awe. I felt very small and it took time to become acquainted with the scale of things. I needed to know the names and shapes of the trees and vegetation to learn that new place and have some hope of feeling at home.
I took it slowly, starting with the neighborhood where I lived. After a few months, I made friends with the giant trees and recognized the vegetation. I grew into relationship with the particular kind of Earth’s abundance there and it started to feel normal. When I went back home to visit family at Thanksgiving, the old familiar Minnesota oak trees looked so short, I had to laugh again. Where did I belong? To which trees and green things did I owe allegiance?
All of them, I decided, in different ways. I belonged to both places. Since then, each time I’ve moved to a new terrain, I get to know the place slowly, starting with the neighborhood where I live. Not a bad approach to entering a human community, either.
Belonging takes time and effort, repetition and learning of names. An openness to connection where we might not expect it to happen; a living into relationships. Where do you feel a sense of belonging? How do you nurture belonging for yourself and all that you encounter? What kind of trees make you laugh with joy?
Rev. Dena McPhetres, Associate Minister