I grew up in a very small town which I loved. As a child, I felt deep belonging to the land forms, the trees, the flowers, the seasons, my family, the neighborhood and my neighbors. As I grew older, there were groups to which I technically belonged: school, church, Girl Scouts, speech and drama club, band. In those official communities, my sense of belonging was strained with the effort of trying to fit in and wondering if I did. It was a long and hard-won developmental leap to discover that I could carry my belonging within and choose which communities I’d join and risk being my whole self.
For me, carrying my belonging within is a spiritual task. My experience of and relationship to the Spirit of Life is the place of my strongest, most durable and, I believe, eternal belonging. Some days I feel it more than others. Loss and grief threaten the certainty of my place in the universe. The sudden absence of physical relationship with one I love, is wrenching. And the official communities in which I live and move and have my being, do not always make room for grieving people.
I think we do a pretty good job of respecting, honoring and listening to each other’s grief at First Church, but we could probably do more. Create more places where we take the time to witness someone’s vulnerability, and companion them through the grieving process.