Some years ago, I attended a training on community led by Malidoma Somé, an initiated elder of the Dagara people of Burkina Faso. When Malidoma said, “Community is the flower of belonging,” I assumed he meant community depends on belonging to a group – and I nodded knowingly.

My assumption was dashed, however, when Malidoma added, “And you belong because you have a mother.” I immediately jumped to my next assumption and nodded again.

But when he pointed to the ground, I realized Malidoma wasn’t referring to my mother in his statement.

“You belong to Mother Earth,” he said. He explained that modernity rips us away from this vital awareness. Consequently, we spend little time in touch with Earth and we lose our sense of true belonging. When we forget we are made of Earth, that we are alive because our Mother is alive, our sense of community cannot blossom.

According to Malidoma, the first coming of age ritual for Dagara boys is an Earth Ritual – because we need to begin with the knowledge that we are entitled to this place, that we belong upon this Earth. We each need a sense of being unconditionally accepted – and Mother Earth provides that.

I found myself thinking about all this as I drove to work this Solstice morning. Today marks a shift in season. Today we are reminded of our primal connection to Mother Earth. We spin among moons and planets and suns and galaxies. In the vastness of space, we are alive on this Blue Boat home. Each of us belongs here. Unconditionally.

As the light returns and days grow longer again, may you feel the wonder and magic of belonging unconditionally to this Earth. And from that sense of belonging, may flowers of community blossom!

Happy Solstice!