Longing and Belonging

The idea of the spiritual, another realm of existence that is intricately woven into where I live my everyday life, is about surrender, rather than control.  I hold too tightly to trying to “figure it out.”  It is  true that I want to push, to find, to search, to strive to see; to be in the metaphoric light, to see what is in front of me.  I’m already forgetting what is. I have relationships that sustain me. I’ve always had a job and a place to live.  There is always meaningful work to do. However, like yesterday, I am derailed by comparisons to “others” named and unnamed who seemingly have, do, or are ….. and expecting — it doesn’t even matter what– to meet my constructed standard.

The real dilemma is that I want to belong, to have a place to stand– that is valued by the world.That is what seems to be elusive, no matter where I am.

In the book whose title I borrowed, longing and belonging, Allison Pugh considers how children and parents in particular interpret and use the ubiquitous consumer culture to construct belonging. I do that too, I consider the whacked out hierarchy that my academic world holds up as true, even though I can pay attention to another way of seeing.

Much like the hunger that Marjorie Thompson likens to “an empty stomach aching beneath the sleek coat of a seemingly well-fed creature, it reveals that something is missing from the diet of our rational, secular, and affluent culture.”

What am I missing?  Frederick Buechner in The Longing for Home ends with the notion that

The danger is that we hold on only to the moments that one way or another heal us and bless us and neglect the others… Woe to all of us if we stay only in the bright uplands of the Gospels and avoid like death, avoid like life, the dark ravines, the cave under the hill.

Bad things and even not so bad things that seem discouraging happen.  What do I do with those?  Underneath, above, around and through the dark and unknown places there is another, a Source, a Presence that blesses my struggle. There are moments and even many days when I don’t think the “right” thing; when I ponder the worst case scenarios and wallow around in the dark ravines.

I wonder, if like some others, will I always be on this journey?  Is there a promised land or is this it– what I can see but don’t continually live in.  I wonder and yet do see glimmers of hope in now.  Buechner’s piece ends with this ineffable mystery; that we know the divine presence in our experience of unknowing.

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