We strive to be a beloved community where people who come feel like they belong. So, with our monthly theme of belonging, I’ve been thinking of what it is that makes me feel like I belong in some places or groups, but not in others. It seems to me that we feel like we belong not necessarily when everyone is like us, but when we can be exactly who we are – with our strengths and our weaknesses, our quirkiness, our boringness, our happiness and sadness, our best moments and our worst mistakes – and all of that is ok.
That means a big part of making people feel like they belong is acceptance and openmindedness towards them, even if they are different. But another really important part is seeing them, and seeing all of them. For a person we just met, it means being interested in their story. For a person we’ve known for a long time, it means being open to the stories not yet told, the stories that don’t fit the picture we’ve constructed about that person, and being open for that person to grow, develop, and change.
Most people are so full of surprises, some quite unexpected. Over the past year, I’ve been awed so many times by who you are, not just as a community but as individuals, with amazing stories to tell and experiences to share. You have enriched me, as I am sure you enrich each other.
So, during this month of October, I invite you discover and rediscover each other. Have a longer-than-usual, deeper-than-small talk conversation with a new person. Reconnect with someone you served on a committee with a couple of years ago. Or sit down over a meal of a cup of coffee with an old friend and be open to discover new things about them. Because it is only when we really feel seen that we truly feel like we belong.