Rev. Virginia Jarocha Ernst
I believe every inch of America is sacred, from sea to shining sea. I believe we make it holy by who we welcome and by how we relate to each other. Call it my Muslim eyes on the American project. “We made you different nations and tribes that you may come to know one another,” says the Qur’an. ~ Eboo Patel
Do you know where you don’t belong? That feeling of being a stranger is actually a comfortable one for me. I think it comes from being a child of immigrants. Once they left war torn Germany my parents never felt entirely ‘at home’ again. Their accents and manners marked them as “other” in their new community and when they did return to Germany for visits everything had changed. The place they were so homesick for simply no longer existed. As a child I absorbed this sense of displacement long before I understood it.
Partly because of this early imprint it seemed natural to emigrate to Unitarian Universalism years ago. I knew without really thinking about it that if the world you find yourself in is unsatisfactory, it is good to move on and find another place to belong. I happily carry my sense of home with me.
As Eboo Patel reminds us, we are made for getting to know one another. That is where belonging happens. I belong to this faith because I have grown to know you and others who live it. Just as I belong to the Earth because I have spent time in the woods and on shores that fill me with fear and wonder. I belong when I invest myself in making a place and its people whole and holy.
Where do you (and don’t you) belong?