HOSPITALITY: the practice of belonging

Welcoming unexpected guests. -Ellen Lowery

Welcoming unexpected guests.
-Ellen Lowery

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Snow On Branches After the snow storm -  designer trees laced with white greet my  friends at my door. -Gail Diez

Snow On Branches
After the snow storm -
designer trees laced
with white greet my
friends at my door.
-Gail Diez

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Belonging by Don Lifto

Enveloped in love;
grounded like roots of an oak.
Holding fast to life.

Feeling alone at times is a shared human experience.  Sometimes aloneness is simply being lonesome, longing for company and the satisfaction of togetherness with family or a friend.  On some days feeling alone is occasioned by fear and a realization that a problem or situation must be confronted by yourself or a sense that no one can hear your plea for help.  Alone can also take on the form of desperation or depression when life’s circumstances feel overwhelmingly crushing in their intensity or perceived consequences.

Although we know being alone, in all of its forms, is part of life, the Haiku “Never Alone” shines a light in a different direction.  This light illuminates love as the antidote to all forms of aloneness, holding us fast to life like the intertwined roots of an oak tree.  Enveloped by a love that is ours to give and ours to receive.
So how does one recapture this sense of love, belonging and safety when the yoke of aloneness weighs so heavily on our shoulders?  There is no answer to this question, of course, because everyone has to find their own path out of the sometimes dark woods.  In recent years, I have used meditation and mantra to capture the power of nominalism – finding the reality of love’s healing powers by naming it such.  In doing so I am able to refocus my thinking and calm my spirit when feeling alone:

May my heart be filled with loving kindness.

May I be free from suffering.
May I be happy and at peace.

Repeating this message in a meditative chant can help regain my sense of balance and keep me in the moment.  I use this same meditation when “sending love” to others by simply replacing “I” and “My” with the other person’s name.

I believe we are never alone if we consciously open our soul’s window to radiant love – ever present, abundant and healing to the soul. Phillip Booth wrote a beautiful poem [First Lesson] about overcoming aloneness and fear with rich images of love in the form of cupped hands and the buoyancy of the sea.  It is shared in full below.

Labyrinth:  Wandering through San Francisco with no destination in mind but, as always, drawn to elevations, I found myself entering Grace Cathedral on Nob Hill, tailing another wanderer. I had not hesitated to enter, and once inside, was filled with a sense of arrival, wonder, and welcome as the labyrinth embraced me, pulled me in further, and held me until I was ready to leave.


Photo by Laurie Kigner

Labyrinth:

Wandering through San Francisco with no destination in mind but, as always, drawn to elevations, I found myself entering Grace Cathedral on Nob Hill, tailing another wanderer. I had not hesitated to enter, and once inside, was filled with a sense of arrival, wonder, and welcome as the labyrinth embraced me, pulled me in further, and held me until I was ready to leave.

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sound in my life. Sound is present in all of my memories. There was only one thing I was forgetting; I am Deaf. I can’t hear song lyrics, I can’t hear the ocean while I am swimming in it, I can’t hear people when they turn away from me. I am Deaf. I realized, that although I needed the hearing world, I needed something else too- something only the Deaf world could provide. A common bond with the Deaf community- we all struggle to hear in a LOUD environment.

Last year, all of these thoughts were constantly running through my head. Now, looking back, I have come to the conclusion that I need to have a balance. A balance of both worlds; I can be a part of the hearing world, but I can also be a part of the silent.

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Hen and Chicks: Though it was two years ago, I still smile in delight when remembering this hen providing warmth, shelter, and such a clear sense of home and belonging to her chicks on a finger numbing morning in SW Utah. This image is one simple definition of community - a circle [of feathers] that opens to receive us.

Hen and Chicks:
Though it was two years ago, I still smile in delight when remembering this hen providing warmth, shelter, and such a clear sense of home and belonging to her chicks on a finger numbing morning in SW Utah. This image is one simple definition of community – a circle [of feathers] that opens to receive us.
- Laurie Kigner

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