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Etude for Belonging

Belonging is a powerful thing. It's powerful to feel, to extend, to withhold. We may grow older, but we never outgrow the fear of being left out, being excluded.

I've been thinking lately about the ways the power of belonging can be similar to the power we call privilege. Belonging can be used to exclude–when we divulge a secret to gain favor or gossip to feel more connected to our confidant. When we form a circle that keeps others out or puts them down. Privilege does this as well. Judgment is withholding belonging.

Ignoring our privilege or our belonging can harm others, and exclude. Even unintentional exclusion can cause so much damage and pain. Sometimes, because of trauma, pain, or pattern, I can be blinded to the belonging I do possess, to the privileges I carry, and in that blindness, I may miss opportunities to include, to welcome, and invite. And sometimes the trauma of being rejected can crack our sense of belonging in ways that feel beyond repair. I've felt this and I'm betting you have too. But I know there's power to be found in learning to stand in the center of my own belonging, in learning how to claim it more fully for myself for the sake of extending it to others so I wanted to write a piece that would offer us all space to practice it a bit, an etude for belonging.

In case you don't know, an etude is a piece of music designed to teach the student a particular skill. It can be beautiful, but the purpose is to practice something hard, often over and over again, so you can use that skill in other places.

We spend so much time rehearsing our un-belonging, even in times and places where we actually do belong (which is everywhere, if we can believe it) that I think we need to practice believing the belonging for a few minutes. If you can, try following these lines where they lead. They are for you.

Etude for Belonging

You belong

Yes, you, who are reading these words with doubt Whose lips are already forming the shape of an argument


You belong in your body This body Not just the portion of it you find acceptable

You belong in your body and your body belongs


You belong in your mind Sweet industrious mind Trapped by what was Anxious of what will be Fearful of the astonishment of yes

You belong in your mind and your mind belongs


You belong in your spirit Beautiful slash in the skin of the source where a flicker of light pours through universal and unique

You belong in your spirit and your spirit belongs


Roots, cliffs, migration paths All these hold our kindred sure Are we the only beings who wonder about our place?


How long can you suspend your disbelief and trust the warp and weft beyond the gravity of space and time that cradles your radiance?

Practice belonging

How long can you hold yourself and let yourself be held in the embrace of this moment?


This is not a counting song where the beats tick past ascending

One Two Three Four

Love is a long sustain Let us measure our belonging together

One One One One

~Bethany Lee ©2019

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