Belonging is a hunger. It’s a hunger to be invited in, to be part of the group, to be at home and important in a community. We’ve all felt it, this longing to be included. No one likes being shut out, standing at the window looking in as others share smiles and laughter. From the time we are little kids, belonging is what we long for.
I know I‘ve certainly felt that longing. As one of three sisters, the cry, “they’re leaving me out!” was heard frequently at our house when I was growing up — usually uttered by my little sister or me in our passionate desire to be included in whatever our big sister was doing! And oh, I’ll never forget the year that all three of us entered our artwork in a poster contest sponsored by the company our dad worked for… My sisters both won awards and I didn’t. As they stood with our dad and the company president for a photograph, I felt so left out, so lonely…
At UUCW, we believe that the shelter of belonging — the circle of belonging — needs to extend broadly. That’s why we offer lots of opportunities for small groups, committee and teamwork, and the chance to share joys and concerns on Sundays. We also offer rituals of belonging for our children in religious education classes and youth groups. Who is the “we” that offers these things? At the beginning of the process, it’s probably the staff, the leaders and teachers and I, but like most things in church life, it doesn’t work unless YOU are involved, too.
That’s the thing about Belonging: it’s not a one-way process, not a journey that ends with an ending! We can come in, become comfortable, join, and participate, but we don’t get to close the door behind us. Because at the core of “Club UUCW” is the fact that we’re not actually a club at all. At our community’s core is the knowledge that our deepest values call us to keep opening the circle wider — opening our hearts and our lives to listen to, appreciate, and welcome the next person who comes along, and then the next and the next…
I hope you’ll always know how much you are loved at UUCW, and that you’ll remember that it’s your kind smile, your open heart that will help others know that they belong here.
With joy in the present and faith in the future,
The Rev. Suzelle Lynch, Minister
P.S. If you’d like to join in the “official work of belonging” let me know! There are dozens of ways to enjoy engagement and help others find their way into our open and embracing circle.