A few days ago, I had our 17-month-old daughter, Addy, out at the church. She was exploring the grounds while carrying a rock she’d found near the building. When it was time to go, I showed Addy how to set the rock down on the ground. But before we could start heading toward the car, she went back to grab the rock and carefully move it over to where she had originally found it. She wanted to make sure it was back where it belonged.
Each of us here at Tree of Life had some moment of realizing that this is where we belonged and where we would return to each week. What was that for you? Was it when you made friends at a Chalice Circle? Was it when you learned about Unitarian Universalist beliefs that resonated with you? Was it when you joined the choir or found another way to serve the congregation?
I think one of the unacknowledged losses of the past few years has been people’s sense of belonging. Some of us who previously found our place of belonging around a coffee table with others struggled to belong when gatherings moved online. Some of us who found our place of belonging when discussing and living out shared values struggled to belong when we found ourselves disagreeing about pandemic policies and practices. Some of us who found our place of belonging while singing struggled to belong when such activities became restricted.
If you’ve recently experienced these or other difficulties with feeling like you belong, know you are not alone. It’s something I’ve heard from congregants, colleagues, family, and friends – and something I have experienced myself at times.
Right now we are in a season of returning to some of our pre-pandemic routines as a congregation. We are meeting for worship in person while maintaining our online services. We are singing and enjoying social hour together. And in a couple weeks, we will gather for our Homecoming, celebrating with water communion and a potluck meal!
But belonging isn’t just about the specific activities that first brought people together. We know we belong when we know we are valued for who we are, for what we offer to a community – even when that community goes through changes.
What can we do to let others know they are valued here? Is there somebody you haven’t seen in a while or haven’t told how glad you are that they are part of Tree of Life? Can you reach out to them this week? As we approach our Tree of Life Homecoming Celebration – the first we’ve had face-to-face in 3 years – let’s all be a bit like a little kid who notices when a rock needs help getting back to the place where it belongs.
Tree of Life Unitarian Universalist Congregation