Each one of us journeys alone to this world and it is our nature to seek out belonging. Each of us carries a unique world within our hearts. Each soul is a different shape. No one feels your life as you do; no on experiences things the way you do. Your life is a totally unique story and only you really know it from within. No one knows what your experience is like. The experience of each of us is opaque and inaccessible to outsiders. Yet no individual is sealed off or hermetically self-enclosed. Though each soul is individual and unique, by its very nature the soul cannot cut itself off from the world. The deepest nature of the soul is relationship. Consequently, it is your soul that longs to belong; it is also your soul that makes all belonging possible. No soul is private or merely mortal. As well as being the vital principle of your individual life, your soul is also ancient and eternal and weaves you into the great tapestry of spirit that connects everything everywhere. There is a lovely balance at the heart of our nature: each of us is utterly unique and yet we live in the most intimate kinship with everyone and everything else. Its more profound intention is the awakening of the Great Belonging which embraces everything. Our hunger to belong is the desire to awaken this hidden affinity. Then we know that we are not outsiders cut off from everything, but rather participants at the heart of creation. Each of us brings something alive in the world that no one else can. There is a profound necessity at the heart of individuality. When your life awakens and you begin to sense the destiny that brought you here, you endeavor to live a life that is generous and worthy of the blessing and invitation that is always calling you.
In post-modern culture there is a deep hunger to belong. An increasing majority of people feel isolated and marginalized. Experience is haunted by fragmentation. Many of the traditional shelters are in ruins. Society is losing the art of fostering community. Consumerism is now propelling life towards the lonely isolation of individualism. Technology pretends to unite us, yet more often than not all it delivers are simulated images. The “global village” has no roads or neighbors; it is a faceless limbo from which all individuality has been abstracted. Politics seems devoid of the imagination that calls forth vision and ideals; it is becoming ever more synonymous with the functionalism of economic pragmatism…. From this perspective, it seems we are in the midst of a huge crisis of belonging. When the outer cultural shelters are in ruins, we need to explore and reawaken the depths of belonging in the human mind and soul; perhaps, the recognition of the depth of our hunger to belong may gradually assist us in awakening new and unexpected possibilities of community and friendship.
[John O’Donohue, Eternal Echoes: Exploring Our Yearning to Belong. New York: Harper Collins (1999), pp. xxiii-xxv]