Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Longing for "Belonging"

            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. 


  1. Kari,

    Before I entered the Church, I'd go to Mass and feel like I was on the outside. I had such an urge to belong: to be able to go up and receive Our Lord, to feel comfortable with all the rituals, to worship God as a family... There were so many obstacles on my pathway before and after I became a Catholic but that need to belong kept me going.

    You said: "I think a sense of belonging is what we all look for in life, what we all need and are made for." Yes! We belong to God.

    I love your choice of word.

  2. I think Sue Elvis summed up my sentiments completely, but I will share this...for the longest time I felt like I didn't "belong" to our little country parish. They are so close knit...so many generations that have lived in the same town attending the same parish...but then I came to the same realization as you...I "belong" just by virtue of being Catholic! I have since opened my eyes and my heart to all the ways that the "locals" have made us feel accepted and was surprised at the abundance of welcoming signs that showed we "belonged"!

    Blessings for 2012...I love your word!




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