Having been away since the end of May I venture to reflect for a moment on the experience of longing and belonging.
For a long while before we leave on a trip –for business or pleasure or both- we plan the details: where to go, where to stay, how long to stay, how to finance the trip, who to see, what to buy etc. Nearer to the time of departure we start thinking about what we will bring with us: clothes, books, documents, umbrella perhaps, medication. A lot of time and energy goes into the preparation. It is a longing which becomes very practical as the date of departure approaches.
When the trip is nearly over, we begin the process in reverse: we start longing and preparing to return. And when we arrive back home there is a wave of “belonging” as we findourselves back in familiar settings, back among friends and family, back to our own space, back to our comfort zones!
In our spiritual lives there are echoes of this longing and belonging. There are times in our spiritual journey when we focus on the future;indeed our Christian faith is future-oriented. We are travelling into God, into God’s Kingdom, we are preparing for glory.
There are also times when we have a strong sense of belonging: times when we feel surrounded by the familiar structures of the spirit life, times when we feel at home with God, happy to relax in the embrace of God.
One of the joys of our Catholic tradition is that we can experience that sense of belonging no matter where we are in the world: we are always at home with God. But even in the spiritual life, it is a special joy to come back to the holy places which are familiar to us, to our local church, to our own faith community, to the parish to which we BE-LONG.
Fr Sean Wales, C.Ss.R.