The wind died down at sunset, and it is a cloudy but very warm December night, at 40 degrees F. I still haven’t gotten used to the pitch-black darkness coming so early, at 4:30 pm, so I’m late getting off on my walk again tonight.
My dog Harper and I head east down our road, for a quarter of a mile, where there is a little neighborhood with some Christmas lights. There are very few lights of any kind on our road, and this will give us a bit of illumination to walk by.
I love looking at the Christmas lights. They evoke such a feeling of cheer for me, especially in December, when the days are so short. This instinct to bring more light into our world, at a time of relative darkness, feels very primal to me.
There are twelve houses in the neighborhood, more than there are on our whole three-mile road. Everyone recognizes us because we walk here frequently, and we know quite a few of people who live here. It feels good to have a sense of belonging in this place.
I often think about what it means to belong, and how important it is to feel like we belong.
I live in a sparse, rural area, by choice. I have a big independent streak in me, and I am also part hermit. Freedom and isolation support my inner life. I thrive here.
But it is also important for me to feel a sense of belonging where I live. In 1985, when I found the five acres on which I live, it felt like coming home. It is a rolling, wooded land, filled with old oaks, and I felt an immediate kinship with the land. I knew that is where I belonged.
I do belong here. I belong to the land, and I belong in the community. I have only a few neighbors, but I know they are here for me, and I for them. We support each other. We have a feeling camaraderie here.
Tonight I am filled up by the feeling of belonging here, as I walk in the darkness, and as I savor the lights.
Where do you belong?