Belonging

Yesterday, a day of magic occurred.  One of the professional positions I hold requires mandatory training. In the midst of the busy that life can be, I had difficulty finding the time for required training dates. As a result, I booked training outside of my regular office. As I prepared for the morning training, I unpacked my bag and re-packed it for this days’ events. My favorite book, Embers, a daily read with poetry and words of wisdom was in my bag from a class I had taught. As I began to remove the book thinking I wouldn’t need it for the training, a sensation arose in my body and I knew to put it back into the bag. Without a thought I listened to the sensation and returned to my morning routine. I dropped off the kids and drove to the training.

I walked into the room and my heart leapt as I noticed two women I had worked with 15 years ago. Woman, who taught me, helped me, and challenged me with their wisdom. I sat down in my seat and began to take in the training. Moments into the training my body began to shiver. I continued to mindfully notice my presence, the presence of my colleagues and the trainers all while my heart skipped and sang, and I noticed a sensation of glee. The discussion of belonging was occurring. The importance of helping people we serve to find belonging was going beyond expectation and being written into policy. 20 years ago, when I started to work in the field of service to others, I entered with naivety, hope, and a deep desire to serve others, to serve those who had lost their way, or never had the opportunity to experience “a way”. My naivety was worn within the first six months of work; my hope and desire to serve have not left. They have danced with disillusionment, shame, hopelessness, rage, and burnout. And in each moment of turmoil the knowing within, the hope for difference, and the desire to serve lit a path to the experience of belonging and love. There was often judgment from colleagues, opposed politics, disdain from people I care about and frustration at myself, a question of my level of crazy. In the midst of all of these experiences a knowing was present. Not always strong but always present. Now in wonder I noticed my body shiver as I listened to a prayer many others and I had be made into policy. The discussion of the intellectual process, the structure, a map were offered by the trainers along with the discussion of the heart of our work, the energy, the ineffable experience a service worker is able to offer to clients as they walk with them through turmoil, pain, and disconnection in search of the experience of belonging. The experience of moving beyond the structure to include the indescribable process of service I had not experienced in training before.

At lunch I took a moment to connect with a woman who had provided training to me in the early days of my career. She offered me profound understanding of residential school through her storytelling, as well as cognitive information. One of the stories I have re-told and carried with me for 15 years. The story of a woman who was aware the Indian Agent was coming to her town the next day and her children were being taken to residential school. The woman told it with her hands, her tears, and her body. The mother brushed the hair of her dear children, brushed with love and braided in perfect braids, fed them their breakfast, blessed them, told them they would be ok, hugged them through her stoic tears and sent them off to school. She never saw them again. As I personally grappled with the intensity of this woman’s pain, I understood I have no understanding of how I would numb that pain, the pain of not knowing the fate of your children. The grief and loss, the wound. I have numbed pain that I view as less. To this day I can’t tell you I would make it through that kind of experience. This teaching, this true story provided me with a voice, an understanding. It was no longer optional for me to sit in silence as people slung words of racism and hate, of ideas to get over it. When I would experience these situations, I felt the strength of mothers who lost their children. I felt them gently holding me as I spoke, as I re-told their stories. I told them not in anger, not in demand but with a peace that passes understanding. I was scared and understood the right thing to do. As I spoke to women who gave the gift of this training to me a gratitude filled my heart and the book Embers found a home as I gifted it to the precious women. A book of wisdom and story, in gratitude for the gift her teaching has been in my life.

The day continued with connection, I shared freely without the meekness and fear I historically had, wonderful conversations, heart-centered sensation allowed, invited, tears welcomed, and a day with service to others professionals as it was to be occurred. The safety of children honored in the policy and process of supporting the ineffable experience of belonging, the understanding that belonging is not optional; it is a birthright of every human being. In the ebb and flow of politics, of the belief of a fast-paced spinning world, may we all remember who we are, may we not lose ourselves in the pace and fear of others, for in remembering who we are we remember who we are to each other.

As I got into my truck at the day’s end I put on the song Beautiful Dawn, by the Wailin Jennys; an anthem of mine. As I turned on the GPS to push the go home button, my heart swelled and filled with gratitude, tears slid gently down my cheeks and I sat for a moment in the experience of Go Home. My home a sanctuary of love, belonging, welcoming to all and truly an expression of the people who live in its walls. Go Home an experience I will continue to support all fellow humans to find. Belonging, Connection, and Love. The ineffable and possible.  I push the Go Home button and in a magical mystery go to my destination.

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