Sense of Belonging
I usually feel at home wherever I go. Settling into a new area or joining a new social group – I often feel like I belong very quickly. I often attribute this to having moved around a lot as the kid of a military family. But of course, privilege plays a large role here, too. As a white male, my right to belong anywhere is almost never challenged, whereas those of marginalized identities are regularly reminded that they are “other.” Even in intentionally welcoming communities like a UU congregation, we can unintentionally tell people they don’t belong through unconsciously learned patterns of speech and culture. It is never enough to simply say that all those coming in good faith belong here – we must take care to make that a reality.
If you have found belonging in this congregation, I hope that this draws out a response from you. I hope that the sense of belonging inspires you to bring that feeling to all who cross our doorway. When we recognize where we belong, when we realize whose we are, how then are we called to respond? How do we expand and support the growing circles of our shared community?
Luckily, October is jam-packed with community events, each one an opportunity for connection and expanding the sense of belonging. Jared Finkelstein is coming on the first weekend for a training in Nonviolent Communication, which helps us connect and communicate in healthier ways, so we don’t unintentionally signal to others: “you don’t belong.” On the second weekend, UU Musician Jim Scott is visiting us for an all ages concert, where we can joyfully build intergenerational community. Finally, on October 19th we’ll have our Octoberfest Fundraiser!
The Fundraiser is an especially apt event for our month of Belonging – as it is an opportunity for community and fellowship, and for raising money. Because one of the responses to the sense of belonging is stewardship. To belong to something is to take care of it. Our fundraiser is a way to support the congregation while also having a blast with everybody.
Whether the sense of belonging comes easily to you, or if it’s a rare treasure you find only in a few places, or only with a few people – may this congregation be one of those places, and may you find joyful ways to participate and dig deeper into belonging this month.