Saturday, June 21st, was the summer solstice and I spent the day in a solstice retreat. It was a time of quiet meditation, laughter, the beginning of new relationships and the renewal of others. One of our discussions covered how all of us have a ‘longing’ for the companionship of others. I, like most people, was born into a family that served as my primary home of ‘be-longing’ for many years but now the events of normal life has separated me from most of my birth family. As a result I created my own ‘family’ through relationships with good friends, companion animals, and my husband and his family.
I had never thought of either a birth-family or a self created-family as a holy thing until I read a book by the late John O’Donohue, Eternal Echoes: Celtic Reflections on our Yearning to Belong. In the very beginning of the book O’Donohue says “When you suppress your wild longing and opt for the predictable and safe forms of belonging, you sin against the rest of Nature that longs to live deeply through you” (pg 5). When we deny our need to belong in relationship with others we deny our true selves and we deny God’s gift of grace of the warm embrace of those who care for us. Yes being in relationship with any other being entails risk; the risk of loss and grief, and the risk of being betrayed. Yet while all of those risk may/do/will happen the benefit joy of knowing there is someone who understands you and is willing to be there for you totally outweighs any sorrow that may occur in the future.
Yes I have lost people I had been in relationship with for many years to death, relocation, and arguments. And losing a friend because of anger or betrayal is the hardest lost for it means a break in the sacred bond God had gifted us with. Today I am more aware of my relationships, looking for ways to nurture them instead of poisoning them. Belonging requires hard work, but like a garden the fruits of the harvest a bountiful and delightful.
Today I ask you to hold in prayer your relationships with your family, friends, companion animals, God and draw strength from knowing you are not alone even when the night is the darkest.
Ruth Jewell, ©June 24, 2014
 O’Donohue, John; Eternal Echoes, Celtic Reflections on our Yearning to Belong, Perennial Publishers, New York, NY, 1999