BELONGING: Why Do We Need To Belong by John O’Donohue

Celtic Reflections on Our Yearning to Belong

Why Do We Need To Belong by John O’Donohue

From Eternal Echoes

Why do we need to belong?  Why is this desire so deeply rooted in every heart?  The longing to belong seems to be ancient and is at the core of our nature.  Though you may often feel isolated, it is the nature of your soul to belong.  The soul can never be separate, its eternal dream is intimacy and belonging.  When we are rejected or excluded, we become deeply wounded.  To be forced out, to be pushed to the margin, hurts us.  The most terrifying image in Christian theology is a state of absolute exclusion from belonging. The most beautiful image in all religion is Heaven or Nirvana: the place of total belonging, where there is no separation or exclusion anymore.  A Buddhist friend once gave a definition of Nirvana: the place where the winds of destiny no longer blow.  This suggests that it is a place of undisturbed belonging.  We long to belong because we feel the lonesomeness of being individuals.  Deep within us, we long to come in from separation and be at home again in the embrace of a larger belonging.  The wonder of being a human is the freedom offered to you through your separation and distance from every other person and thing.  You should live your freedom to the full, because it is such a unique and temporary gift.  The rest of Nature would love to have the liberation we enjoy.  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.  When your way of belonging in the world is truthful to your nature and your dreams, your heart finds contentment and your soul finds stillness.  You are able to participate fully in the joy and adventure of exploration, and your life opens up for living joyfully, powerfully, and tenderly.  Conversely, when you are excluded or rejected, your life inevitably tends to narrow into a concern and sometimes an obsession with that exclusion and the attempt to change it.

The shelter of belonging empowers you; it confirms in you a stillness and sureness of heart.  You are able to endure external pressure and confusion; you are sure of the ground on which you stand.  Perhaps your hunger to belong is always active and intense because you belonged so totally before you came here.  This hunger to belong is the echo and reverberation of your invisible and eternal heritage.  You are from somewhere else, where you were known, embraced, and sheltered.  This is also the secret root from which all longing grows.  Something in you knows, perhaps remembers, that eternal belonging liberates longing into its surest and most potent creativity.  This is why your longing is often wiser than your conventional sense of appropriateness, safety, and truth.  It is the best antidote to the fear of freedom, which is second nature to many people.  Your longing desires to take you towards the absolute realization of all the possibilities that sleep in that clay of your heart; it knows your eternal potential, and it will not rest until it is awakened.  Your longing is the divine longing in human form.

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