I kept seeing things about picking a word for the new year and focusing the next 12 months on that word-- on learning more about it and growing more in it and turning to God for greater understanding of it. The idea intrigued me but I couldn’t decide if I should do it.
At first, I thought I would. I opened my ears and my eyes in search of my word. And every word I heard seemed to have potential to be “the” word.
Then, I decided I wouldn’t because I could not choose just one word and if there were one million words then none of them would have meaning. So, I tossed aside the idea of a word for the year.
Then the word “belonging” grabbed me and it has not let go yet. So, here I am a few days into the new year and focusing a lot of my thoughts on the idea of belonging. I have still not committed to a year of contemplating this word, “belonging”, but I am curious to see if that is what happens.
My first encounter with belonging came as I wrote my last blog post. I had intended it to be all about the Feast of the Holy Family but it turned out to be more about my own family and where I fit into it. About how, after a lifetime of feeling like I just did not really belong, I realized I absolutely do belong and even with all our imperfections and struggles, I am grateful to be a part of my family.
Then on New Year’s Day we went to a different parish for Mass, because after staying up way too late on New Year’s Eve, we slept in and did not make it to “our” Church. I sat there before Mass began, feeling like we did not really belong. Then we were asked to bring up the offertory gifts. I thought about all the reasons we should not do it, reasons all centered around the fact that we did not belong. And as I sat there making excuses not to participate, it hit me once again-- of course, we belonged there. I realized, every Catholic Church is “our” Church and we should be honored to bring our gifts forward to the altar and be a part of the beauty of the Mass. We accepted the invitation, and as we came forward, I prayed that God would accept the gifts we held in our hands as well as the ones we offered in our hearts. It was a beautiful moment. And, for that second anyway, I understood the concept of belonging and the importance of accepting God’s gift of it in my life.
I think my whole life has been about trying to find the place I belong.
I think a sense of belonging is what we all look for in life, what we all need and are made for. “Belonging” wasn’t one of the many words I had considered but it seems it is the word that was chosen for me, and I suspect, it will be the perfect word to see me through this year.