BELONGING: The Wisdom Of Rhythm by John O’Donohue

Celtic Reflections on Our Yearning to Belong

The Wisdom Of Rhythm by John O’Donohue

From Eternal Echoes

To be human is to belong.  Belonging is a circle that embraces everything; if we reject it, we damage our nature.  The word “belonging” holds together the two fundamental aspects of life: Being and Longing, the longing of our Being and the being of our Longing.  Belonging is deep; only in a superficial sense does it refer to our external attachment to people, places, and things.  It is the living and passionate presence of the soul.  Belonging is the heart and warmth of intimacy.  When we deny it, we grow cold and empty.  Our life’s journey is the task of refining our belonging so that it may become more true, loving, good, and free.  We do not have to force belonging.  The longing within us always draws us towards belonging and again towards new forms of belonging when we have outgrown the old ones.  Postmodern culture tends to define identity in terms of ownership: possessions, status, and qualities.  Yet the crucial essence of who you are is not owned by you.  The most intimate belonging is Self-Belonging.  Yet your self is not something you could ever own; it is rather the total gift that every moment of your life endeavors to receive with honor.  True belonging is gracious receptivity.  This is the appropriate art of belonging in friendship: friends do not belong to each other, but rather with each other.  This with reaches to the very depth of their twinned souls.

True belonging is not ownership; it never grasps or holds on from fear or greed.  Belonging knows its own shape and direction.  True belonging comes from within.  It strives for a harmony between the outer forms of belonging and the inner music of the soul.  We seem to have forgotten the true depth and spiritual nature of intimate belonging.  Our minds are oversaturated and demented.  We need to rediscover ascetical tranquility and come home to the temple of our senses.  This would anchor our longing and help us to feel the world from within.  When we allow dislocation to control us, we become outsiders, exiled from the intimacy of true unity with ourselves, each other, and creation.  Our bodies know that they belong; it is our minds that make our lives so homeless.  Guided by longing, belonging is the wisdom of rhythm.  When we are in rhythm with our own nature, things flow and balance naturally.  Every fragment does not have to be relocated, reordered; things cohere and fit according to their deeper impulse and instinct.  Our modern hunger to belong is particularly intense.  An increasing majority of people feel no belonging.  We have fallen out of rhythm with life.  The art of belonging is the recovery of the wisdom of rhythm.

Like fields, mountains, and animals we know we belong here on Earth.  However, unlike them, the quality and passion of our longing make us restlessly aware that we cannot belong to the Earth.  The longing in the human soul makes it impossible for us ever to fully belong to any place, system, or project.  We are involved passionately in the world, yet there is nothing here that can claim us completely.  When we forget how partial and temporary our belonging must remain, we put ourselves in the way of danger and disappointment.  We compromise something eternal within us.  The sacred duty of being an individual is to gradually learn how to live so as to awaken the eternal within oneself.  Our ways of belonging in the world should never be restricted to or fixated on one kind of belonging that remains stagnant.  If you listen to the voices of your own longing, they will constantly call you to new styles of belonging which are energetic and mirror the complexity of your life as you deepen and intensify your presence on Earth.

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