The Sacred Headwaters of Belonging

In Wade Davis' The Wayfinders – Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World, he describes a wonder of British Columbia geography – the headwaters of Canada's most important salmon rivers, the Stikine, Skeena and Nass as well as the origins of Canada's greatest river, the Mackenzie.  Davis, National Geographic's Explorer in Residence, compares these Sacred Headwaters to Mount Kailash in Tibet, the source of the Ganges, Indus and Brahmaputra Rivers, vital arteries that bring life to a billion people downstream.

The thought of despoiling and polluting the sources of these two unique geographical river systems would upset and horrify most of us.  Water is such a source of life, of culture, of resilience, of livelihood, of pleasure – a natural asset that should not be made into a commodity to be exploited purely for selfish short term commercial reasons. As Davis observes to do so leaves you vulnerable to penalties either in this life or the next!

There is another source of life that is just as sacred, just as majestic, just as life giving as these rivers.  It is called belonging.  Belonging is that invisible but indispensable force that connect us to
each other, to our families, our communities, our country, our beliefs,
our earth, our universe. 
It is about all forms of life.  We call it, 'living ties'.  Belonging is a state of being, not an act or an activity. We belong to
our families, our homes, our religions, the way an organ belongs to an
organism, our heart to our body.

Unlike a river it is not as easy to discern, observe or detect when we violate the sources of belonging.  As Joni Mitchell sings, ' You don't know what you've got 'till it's gone.'  Then one day we wake up and realize more Canadian seniors live alone than ever before or that loneliness is creeping through our culture leaving more and more of us isolated, alone and bereft of meaning.

Belonging like the source of mighty rivers cannot be taken for granted.  We ignore the sources of belonging at our peril.

That is why a number of thinkers and colleagues, Jacques Dufresne from L'Encyclopédie de L'Agora ; Nathan Ball from  L'Arche ;  and myself from PLAN have come together to create a different type of website – one devoted exclusively to exploring all facets and aspects of belonging.  We call, a 'slow' site. It will be of particular interest for those wiling to take a few minutes to read and reflect, digest, muse, daydream, ponder…….

The sources of belonging we are exploring include: Places of Belonging; Values of Belonging, which draw on the wisdom of poets and philosophers; Actions that nurture and nourish Belonging; Metaphors of Belonging gleaning insights from blades of grass, canaries in machines and grafting; and the Elements of Belonging – fire, earth, air and water.  The confluence of all these categories make up what we consider the Sacred Headwaters of Belonging. 

We have designed Appartenance-Belonging to reflect our roots in the French and
English cultures of Canada.  That is why the web address won't roll
easily off your tongue.  However it is easy to bookmark and we are confident the
content will satisfy all your senses.

Do dive in, take a refreshing dip into the marvels and wonders of  'slow thinking' . There you will discover the surprising links and connections between,
taking care of our environment and taking care of each other.  Click here if you would like to subscribe to our monthly newsletter, Belonging Living Ties.

I'll leave you with two quotes the first from Jean Vanier one of the inspirations behind this website:

The longer we journey on the road to inner healing and wholeness,
the more the sense of belonging grows and deepens. The sense is not
just one of belonging to others and to a community. It is a sense of
belonging to the universe, to the earth, to the air, to the water, to
everything that lives, to all humanity. – Jean Vanier

During the Renaissance and well into the Enlightenment, in our quest for personal freedom, we in the European tradition liberated the human mind from the tyranny of absolute faith, even as we freed the individual from the collective, which was the sociological equivalent of splitting the atom.  And, in doing so, we also abandoned many of our intuitions for myth, magic, mysticism, and, perhaps most importantly, metaphor.  – Wade Davis, The Wayfinders


Wade Davis' book is also available for free in audio form as part of the Massey Lectures.

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