We All Belong

Category: Monthly Reflection

Used LR preset "10,000 Light Years from Home"


            In the Western world we have become distanced from the wonder of rolling planets, seasonal rhythms, the pull of the moon on oceans and the unseen mysteries of the world. We may learn of natural wonders through the medium of TV, send shuttles into space, travel the earth’s surface in a day but rarely find ourselves in living, wonder-filled touch with the universe. It takes intentional commitment to place ourselves in a contemplative consciousness that acknowledges Mystery and allows for big steps of trust on the unknown path of faith. In a way it is very simple. We don’t need to travel to distant places or try to imitate the mystics. Instead we are invited to come home to ourselves, to the wonder of our creation in the divine image and to our deep connection with the universe. We belong in the great cosmic web which embraces all. I glimpsed this web in the Egyptian desert as I lay in my sleeping bag on the rocky ground and gazed up at the stars and I glimpsed it in a dusty lot at the old Johannesburg prison where a single weed pushed up through the dirt on a window sill. These experiences renew my sense of longing for the Holy and set me again and again back on a new path of where comfortable images of God and patterns of prayer no longer “work.” But the way has been filled with grace and the discovery of both ancient and breath-taking new insights into the Mystery of God.

            Poet and philosopher John O’Donohue calls us to a fresh realization of the “circle of belonging” in his book Anam Cara where he speaks of the transformative power of knowing ourselves as intimately connected with all creation. We belong. He sees the soul as a divine echo, an enriching fountain of love, where we encounter the awesome presence of Mystery and know ourselves as beloved. “Spirituality is the art of transfiguration…we need to practice a new art of attention to the inner rhythms of our days and lives.” Far from being a selfish absorption with our own neuroses such attentive presence to our soul life connects and changes us within the context of all creation

            We are invited to go gently into that tender, beautiful space allowing it to be illumined by what John suggests is like the warm light of a candle and not the neon light of analytical psychology. Too often we have hammered at our soul-life in an attempt to make it conform to the shape of a particular religious or psychological tradition. But there is no place for violence in the deep places of the soul. Instead there is a wonderful uniqueness nestled in the all-embracing rhythms of grace and when we open to the wisdom of who we truly are we are changed, enriched, and blessed beyond measure.  As we become stewards of our souls we also come to know our connection to the universe which calls forth our caring presence. Contemplative presence, far from causing us to become navel-gazers, opens our eyes and hearts to the wonder of all that is. And it sometimes also makes us weep at the rape of the earth and our complicity with global devastation and poverty. Contemplation also urges us into action.


Elizabeth Canham

October 2013

Part of this article was first published Weavings 2008. Your comments and response to our monthly reflection are much appreciated.