Belonging: An Exprience of the Heart

Submitted by The New Story Group on March 14, 2014 - 11:22am
A reflection by The New Story Group member, Roz Vincent-Haven

In my life, I have experienced both the presence of belonging and its absence. For me, when I have felt most like I belonged, it has been at times when I have intentionally cared for another, or when I have felt cared for by another. The events and circumstances have changed through time, but when I have experienced belonging it has been through the practice of reciprocal care for one another. Belonging is a movement of the heart: Ubuntu (Swahili) “I am because you are.”


 When I think back in my life and that of my daughter, who lives with an intellectual disability, where true belonging has occurred, each incident had at its core, unconditional care. Belonging cannot be seen but must be felt. It is experienced in the reciprocal, back and forth movement of freely given commitment of one person to another.

 My most poignant experience of belonging was at the Centre for Christian Studies.  All learning was done in team. Learner/leader groups were entrusted with every aspect of education. True mutual empowerment was modeled and expected. Belonging was the ground for both unconditional support and care filled critique to spur continual learning for all.  There was a counter cultural grounding assumption that each belonged and the product of our joint effort was far greater than that which could ever have been accomplished individually.

 I have observed belonging within my daughter’s life as well. She belongs in her network, with her people, and they belong with her. More than a circle of others that support her, it is a web, a matrix infused with the energy of reciprocal care. I have witnessed the joy experienced in the giving and receiving of her small token “love gift,” of a plastic canvas coaster, or other handmade craft. I have experienced the care and support she has received to empower her to ask someone out on a first date, and the delight of her supporter at her success. And I have seen the commitment of each member to the others in the group, including but not limited to my daughter. For me it is witnessing a movement of the heart, commitment freely given from each to the other. To belong, one must be enabled to both give and receive care.


Belonging can occur in many places and with diverse circumstances. However, I have only ever experienced or witnessed belonging within mutual association with others. My life experience has taught me that through times of celebration and sorrow, belonging occurs when we stand side by side, learning, working, supporting and empowering each other with care.


Roz Vincent-Haven

Founding member of the New Story Group



What a beautiful, raw, inspiring... reflection on belonging!

Thanks so much for sharing your stories and thoughts, Roz!