This past weekend I attended an Education Ministry workshop, From Inclusivity to Belonging, facilitated by Diane Tapogna, RScP and long time teacher and educator, Krista McAtee. The presentation was full, rich, deep and at times challenging.
Early on, we were asked to share a time when we felt like we didn’t belong. A memory from several years ago surfaced almost immediately. In a dyad, I briefly shared my experience, while being listened to. It is a wonderful thing to feel like the person you are speaking with is interested and listening. This time it came as an exercise in a workshop and yet when I have the glorious pleasure of someone displaying interest in me, what I have to say, what I bring, what I am feeling, it is a beautiful and glorious thing. Jane Fonda said this, when she was being honored by the American Film Institute, “ it is more important to be interested than interesting. Stay curious”.
On my birthday last week, I received an unexpected call from my son Rob. I say unexpected as it was a Thursday, and he had a radio show that night. He had texted me the night before wishing me “Happy Birthday tomorrow”. Also, I am familiar with the density of his preparation for his shows. When I saw his name on the phone, I celebrated and knew that whatever came from that day that this was enough, to receive a call from my beloved son.
I answered and he said “What does it feel like to be 79 years old”. I asked if he had a microphone handy as I recalled all the sports announcers interviewing athletes immediately following a win or loss, asking “how does it feel”. It is always so awkward as the athletes are caught up in that moment and haven’t had a chance to be with what has just happened to them.
Turning 79 wasn’t like that. In response to Rob’s inquiry, I told him that I’d been engaging in the process of assessing my life, reflecting on the old days and the current ones, etc and he replied, “turning 79 is a good time to start doing that”. We both laughed out loud. He has a such a natural way of bringing me to much joy and laughter. I confessed that I’ve been doing this process for years and years. Of course, he wasn’t surprised.
After almost 2 hours, when our conversation ended, (as I had a scheduled call with Pastor Gott), I recalled Rob’s opening statement of interest, that gave me the opportunity to say what I feeling in that moment. It brought me to tears, to joy, to elation that what I desired most was beautifully given and bestowed on me. I am incredibly blessed.
In the workshop, through the various exercises and conversations, there were many times I felt that those present were interested in what I was offering. I felt valued, seen and heard. It is lovely. It is my joy to witness. It fills me up and being in the company of these ministers and practitioners gave me that precious opportunity.
I also had the experience of doubting that I was not up to the final exercise, mainly because of the language being used. The words “lesson plan” for example. This was something that professional teachers and educators do, I am not one of those people, I let ideas come to me, I nurture them and then the plan, the presentation, the talk presents itself. I don’t do lesson plans. Krista came to my rescue.
She reminded me that I do this all the time. As she spoke to me, I too was reminded that I have wisdom, guidance, inspiration and confidence that is resident within me. It is always and forever present when it is wanted, desired, needed to move through the next moment of my life. When I trust it, have faith in it, it never fails me. Thank you Krista for your support, guidance, kindness and love for being this living affirmation for me in that moment.
God is always speaking to us, in a myriad of ways. I have had moments in my life that I remember delivering wisdom beyond my knowing, when it was called for, when it was needed, when it was vital. God always provides.
I began this with a workshop experience. I shared a birthday gift that brought me blessed joy. I exposed myself and what is important to me. Thank you for listening.
I invite you to consider the possibility that in your life, God is offering all that it is and all it has to give to you here and now. I invite you to open in faith and say yes, receiving it and glorifying God in the midst of it.
Quote: “Where Do I Belong…” by Maggie Cole
God has brought me here – I belong
Right where I am – I belong
All the places I have been – I belong
All the places I am – I belong
The spaces I occupy from this moment on – I belong
You and me – I belong
Me and they – I belong
Us and them – I belong
We and thee – I belong
It is here and now – I belong
Since before I entered by Mother’s womb – I belong
Until eternity – I belong
Let me state it clearly – I belong
This declaration sets me free
Wherever I go, I get to be me
I belong – I am – I belong – I am, I belong