We are being called to widen our sense of belonging.
It is easy to stay safe in the nest of family, friends, and the circles in which we typically travel. We know who accepts us, we don’t have to work too hard to be part of our own group.
Our sense of safety is an illusion. It may also keep us stuck, shutting out opportunities to widen our knowledge, expand our understanding, and strengthen our communities.
My parents raised me to have respect for all people and they stayed safe in their own tribe of mostly Episcopalians. It was a safe, comfortable childhood. I had little knowledge of other religions or races.
My second child was delivered in Charlotte, NC.
The day after the delivery, the Pediatric Cardiologist walked into my room.
Our older son had been born with a congenital heart condition that was being watched but we never expected that our second child would have a problem.
“I hate like hell to tell you this but William has a pretty severe heart problem, he may have complications in his lungs and we are going to transfer him to Charlotte Memorial since they are better equipped to give him the care he may need. We will probably have to operate. We are transferring him tomorrow early so we can do a catheterization to define the problem further.”
We were relatively new in Charlotte. We had made some friends, but I felt particularly alone that night and the tears came and wouldn’t stop.
The nursing staff had found me a private room so I could weep out my grief.
It was around 11 pm. I was still shaking with fear and dread. A black Nurse’s Aide entered the room and sat on my bed. I do not remember what she said, but she leaned over and took me in her arms and held me and rocked me.
I have never been so grateful to anyone in my life. In that instant, she gave me an understanding that I had never had and made me realize that what we share and must share is our humanity.
I was so immersed in the drama of my son’s illness, and the exhaustion of sleeping on a cement floor after a C-Section in the other hospital that I never went back to thank her.
It’s embarrassing to admit that.
I have thanked her so many times in my heart and prayed that she heard me. It changed me and raised my awareness of how to respond when I can.
We are being called to widen our circles. To invite others whom we might not know to be part of creating something bigger. Something that could make us wonder why we ever thought so small. Why we ever were so miserly in our affection, why we were ever so frightened of thinking bigger.
We are being called and it will require the courage to grow. It will require listening and dialogue and we are absolutely up to it.
We can start with a vision of what is possible followed by baby steps. There will be no overnight success but enormous visions have been accomplished through imagination and intention.
Who in your community would benefit from the conversation of belonging? How will you benefit from having this conversation? How can the community benefit?
What are you willing to do to glue your community together?
It starts with one small step, then another.