Somewhere to belong

One recent Sunday morning found me in my car, running errands. Usually I do not make it out of the house before noon, but on this particular morning, Anya was at her grandparents’ and Kai and I had been up since dawn. He needed a nap, but wasn’t going down without a fight. I needed to get something — anything — done. So we ventured out around 8:30 a.m. to deposit a check, do a little shopping, and (most importantly) drive long enough so he could snooze for a bit.

It was a beautiful morning. Cool, sunny, with downpours of amber leaves. It was neat seeing all of the people in their Sunday best walking into churches. I hadn’t realized before just how many churches there are around here. And I felt a pang, just for a moment, that I didn’t have a church to go to.

I am not religious. I don’t even have much of a spiritual streak, though there are a few threads taking hold as I get older. My beliefs are blunt and matter-of-fact and tend to offend, however inadvertently, the religious people I have discussed them with, so let’s just call me an atheist and leave it at that. There isn’t a church for people like me, at least not one I’m aware of. There is no group I can join on a Sunday morning and talk about life and philosophy and love. No meet-and-greet afterwards. No brunch.

And until now, I never missed it. I’m not a joiner. In fact, I am your textbook introvert; send me to a party, and you’ll find me in a corner reading and checking the time. (And how convenient is it that I can now do both on the same device?) Back in my single days, it was a pretty common occurrence for me to go all day without using my voice at all. And I was cool with that.

But now, I’m a little lonely. I participate in groups on the internet, and stay in touch with my friends (and “internet friends”) on social media. I just don’t have any face-to-face friends I see more than once a year (or three). And part of me misses that.

How nice it would be to have a place to go in which the other people there believed the same things I do. My kids would have people their own age to play with. We could make friends, and talk about things that matter, and find support from people who care about us.

We could belong.


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