A Sense of Belonging

Weekly Reflection, Friday, May 7

By: Charmaine Trice

I have a habit of holding on to church bulletins from our worship services. Many have notes I jotted down during the service…something that struck a chord, something I learned, something   that filled my heart.

On November 3, 2019, I wrote on my bulletin the words “sense of belonging.” The sermon told a story about the last day of summer camp—exchanging friendship bracelets, emotional goodbyes before going home, and “all the ways that each of their individual lives with their individual stories had become a part of a story so much larger than they’d ever imagined, with the staggering weight of holy revelation coming with it just the way it does when you’re thirteen or fourteen.” The friendship bracelets being “a reminder to them of that, a sacrament of belonging to each other and to a larger and greater and holier story they shared.” A sacrament, a visible symbol of God and the realization of BELONGING.

This weekend, we celebrate the Confirmation of fifty St. Mary’s 8th and 9th graders whose faith, resiliency,  perseverance, and ability to adapt have connected them and helped them through a most unusual year. Throughout, Emily Bruch has been a source of steady support for our youth. In a year of being “disconnected,” she managed to keep these kids connected—helping them grow in their faith and friendships, and embracing each and every one of them; creating a sense of belonging.

Frank and I, as confirmation mentors, have had the good fortune to witness the kids’ love for this church, its congregants, and the experiences they’ve had here. We’ve gotten to know many of our confirmands during Sunday morning gatherings in early 2020, and into 2021 through individual conversations, reading their notes and reflections, and participating in Youth Group service projects and activities. These kids show up—that’s for sure!

Do you ever wonder what their once-in-a-lifetime experience during a pandemic will do FOR them? How is God working in their lives right now? What is He preparing them for?

I suspect they will come out on the other side better and stronger, with gratitude and fortitude and a sense of what is truly important to them in life. I suspect they will tap into the most abundant resource on earth: Love. I hope they will ask Him for help when they need guidance, giving up    their worries to Him, and listening and watching for Him in their lives. I hope they remember that they are, “God’s own, who declares when we rise and when we fall, ‘You are mine and I love you.’” I hope this gives them a sense of belonging.

Reaffirming your Baptismal covenant, and feeling closer to God is the “secret sauce.” Confirmation is another step in belonging to something loving and giving for a lifetime and beyond. No matter what stage in your life, no matter what the circumstances, no matter what the challenges … you’ll always have a place you belong. Grounded in Love. Thank you Emily. Thank you God for these 50 young people. God bless you.