This month our Soul Matters program invites us all to contemplate the connection between Belonging and Mysticism (which I might define as “the sensation and practice of belonging to all that is.”)
How do you honor and celebrate your mystical connection to nature? to other people? to animals? to the stars and other spinning planets?
The Quaker teacher Douglas Steer challenges us to start with this question: Whose am I? He writes:
The ancient question, ‘Who am I?’ inevitably leads to a deeper one: ‘Whose am I?’ – because there is no identity outside of relationship. You cannot be a person by yourself. To ask “Whose am I” is to extend the question far beyond the little self-absorbed self, and wonder:
- Who needs you?
- Who loves you?
- To whom are you accountable?
- To whom do you answer?
- Whose life is altered by your choices?
- With whose life is your own bound up, inextricably, in obvious or invisible ways?’
A Spiritual Exercise for Belonging
So here’s an idea for this month, a spiritual exercise suggested by our Soul Matters partners. Here are your instructions:
- Clear off a space on a table, dresser, desk or shelf in your house.
- Over a few days or a week populate that space with pictures of people who come to mind when you ask yourself “Whose am I?” Find or print out the pictures. Add as many as feels right. Push yourself to think beyond the obvious answers: your family, your church community, etc. Treat the question as a meditation practice. Asking it each day will lead you to unexpected pictures: a mentor from your past, an unknown boy on the other side of the world suffering because climate change caused by us, those who have been exclude from our faith because of white-centered structures. Or maybe it will take you beyond people, to a pet from your childhood or that park you walk in every Saturday of the Fall.
- Once the space is filled with your chosen pictures, send another week or two using it as an altar of sorts. Pause briefly before it every morning. Or maybe more than briefly.
- Pay attention to how bringing your network of belonging changes your days. Journal about it. Discuss it with your partner or a friend or Rev. Susanne.
Note: You don’t have to do this exercise by yourself. Consider doing it with your partner or with your children as well.