Thursday, April 18, 2013

"You belong to Me..."

"You don't have to prove to me
that you're beautiful to strangers..."

There was a time when Carly Simon's "You Belong to Me," represented what I thought wanted. I wanted someone to belong to, and someone who belonged to me.

And not just someone to call my own, but a place of my own, a family, friends, a spiritual community, a job, a purpose. I wanted to feel that I'd found my niche in the world, and in someone else's heart.

I wanted, wanted, wanted. I didn't think I wanted things, but I definitely wanted a feeling. I wanted to feel that I belonged.

And there was a point in my life when I really began to believe that I was coming close experiencing that sense of belonging in a number of ways. That is, until I didn't have any of it -- anymore. And that was probably the best day --  the day I began to discover a real sense of belonging.  A sense of belonging that is invulnerable and eternal.

You see, I'd always thought that if I could just be "enough" for everyone around me, I would get the chance to belong. If I was attentive, kind, loving, neat, smart, funny, spiritual enough, the people in my life wouldn't need anyone else. They would want me and I would belong to them, with them, near them.

I thought that if I always saw them through the most loving eyes, gave the best gifts, provided the most attentive care, served with the greatest willingness, made the best meals, had the coziest home, tried to be the most thoughtful colleague, tenant, friend, daughter, sister, mom -- my belonging would be secure.

But this kind of thinking -- and behaving -- was exhausting. It meant that if I made one false move, dropped one carefully juggled ball, forgot to say the right thing, broke the rules -- even a little, I'd be out, rejected, dismissed. And I was.

And that rejection was probably the most vital, enduring, and life-transforming gift God could have given me.

You see, I'd never, ever -- no matter how hard I'd tried -- really felt like I belonged. I always felt like a visitor, a tolerated guest -- only "there" at the behest of my hosts. Once out in the cold, I had to go deep within to find warmth and comfort. And in that space of prayer -- the great interiority of conscious worth -- I found a reliable place to abide, not just visit.

This is the place where we are not a tenants -- vulnerable to eviction, rejection, homelessness.  And because it is a place of grace, we can't buy it or earn it.  It is God's place where no one, and nothing, can tell us we don't belong. Ever.

Robert Frost once said that:

"Home is the place where,
when you go there,
they have to take you in."

But I no longer think this is true, if we are talking about home as a geographical, personal, or institutional "place."  For me, this statement can only be true in a spiritual context. It only feels possible in the "place" where God and men do meet. In that stillness of consciousness -- that deep interior sanctuary -- where thoughts and deeds take form and flight.

Of course we delight in our loved ones, we cherish our communities of fellowship, and appreciate houses, temples of worship, and spaces that are sacred to us. But our sense of belonging can never be fully satisfied, or secure, if it is based on personal or organizational acceptance. And no matter how hard we try, we will never find that "place" on earth where we can feel eternally rooted and grounded. For me, this kind of unconditional security, acceptance and belonging can only be found in the heart of God.

When singing the words of H. F. Lyte's timeless hymn "Abide with Me," * I always imagine my Father-Mother God standing at the threshold of stillness, bidding me, "come in." There I find an ever-wakeful divine Parent always welcoming me home to the one place where I will always belong:

"I know Thy presence
every passing hour,
I know They peace,
for Thou alone art power;
O Love divine,
abiding constantly,
I need not plead,
Thou dost abide with me."  

This is the place of my belonging. This is the place where I don't need to plead for acceptance, grovel for forgiveness, hope for mercy, or fear rejection. This is the place I abide, dwell, rest -- the sweet, sacred interiority of the kingdom -- within. And in this place, I belong to Him.

offered with Love,


* The link to this hauntingly lovely Emeli Sande version of "Abide with Me" was sent to me by one of my daughters this morning after I'd already posted this piece. She had no idea that this particular hymn was in my heart this morning and was part and parcel to today's post. Although this version does not have the lyric quoted above, it carries the spirit of this post, and it allows you to "hear" the hymn in a most sacred way.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous7:43 AM

    Every word written here is a soothing balm for sore hearts bruised, battered by the world of matter...The heart breathes in these words like its life breath, never seeming to be enough