A Sense of Belonging

I read something the other day that started me thinking about gratitude, and belonging.

How we feel a sense of gratitude when we feel that we belong – and perhaps that we feel a greater sense of belonging when we cultivate gratitude.

A sense of belonging is, for me, inextricably tied to the earth: feeling close to and familiar with the rivers and the trees, with the patterns of fields and the curves of the land.

I think perhaps this is why birdsong can be so powerful – it’s not just that it’s beautiful but also that it reminds us: of other places and times, other songs we’ve heard, it reminds us that we’re here, and hearing, and present, a part of the moment, the listeners of the song.

And I think this is why I love the flowers so. Even if you’re feeling out of sorts and disconnected, even if you can’t see the big picture or make sense of the patterns of life, or the lack of them, there they are, fully present, fully familiar.

All you need to do is bend down and notice, say hello, pay attention.

I’m not sure if these are big thoughts or small ones, only that again and again I come back to this moment, this invitation, to bend down and notice.

To feel not just wonder but familiarity, and belonging, and remembrance that you’re at home.

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With thanks to Kim Manley Ort for prompting me to think about the power of gratitude.

Welcoming the Snowdrops

clump of snowdrops dancing in sunlight

When does a year begin?

For me it is this day, when the sun is finally shining and you walk out in hope because surely they must be here by now, and even though it’s not much of a surprise,

even though it’s become something of a ritual for you, this watching for them, waiting,

still –

I’m not sure there is anything more lovely, more hope-giving, than the sight of these wee flowers poking up their heads through the mud, and rough ground, and glinting in the sun.

First Snowdrops

snowdrops close to the ground in half sun

On a cold grey day

I was walking by the river

Looking for a story or a sign of life

In the greyness of January

With my hat down and gloves on

With my head up with my eyes wide open

Safe in the knowledge that I’d find you there.

But still

When I did

When I found you by the river

When I looked once and looked twice

When I bent down to look more closely

When I cleared away the rubbish and the brownness of old leaves

When I looked down and found you there

Soft, strong

Tiny, vast

Green, white

Sign of spring and gift of winter:

I couldn’t help but cry.