Throughout my childhood, my Dad had this phrase he would tell me every day. It was like a mantra, spoken every time we said goodbye until it became ingrained.
“Remember who you belong to.”
This could mean a lot of things to a lot of different people, but for us it meant one: Remember the Spirit* you were born from. Stand for it, live by it, and let it guide your steps this morning… today… and every day you walk this Earth, because without it we forget who we are.
At 26, I have never known a wiser set of words than these. I moved to Florida in January, 2013. One year, seven months, and four days ago I packed what I could fit in my car and left my home, my pup, my dear Carolina, and my father for a new adventure with those words in my mind.
I have no regrets. I love Florida. Truly, I do. I love the heat, the palm trees, and the bigger windows of opportunity. The beaches are therapeutic, and the smell of salt and sand makes it feel like paradise. However, there is something about a world made of concrete that makes us forget something very important…
“We often forget that we are nature. Nature is not something separate from us. So when we say that we have lost our connection with nature, we’ve lost our connection to ourselves.” – Andy Goldsworthy
I woke up this morning and stepped on my father’s deck where I was greeted by four paws, the wagging tail of my pup, and the melody of morning birds, and I understood I needed this. I could feel in my bones the Spirit singing I had come home.
There aren’t words to properly describe what it feels like, but it’s more real than anything I’ve ever experienced. Feeling connected with the earth beneath your feet and the creatures around you, there is this moment where you suddenly are ultimately aware of who and what you are.
I felt like I could breathe for the first time in a very long time, and it makes me wonder how many people are running around this world holding their breath. How many of us keep busy running a rat race for a prize that’s right beneath our feet?
Sometimes, in the midst of my Florida city, I have moments where I completely forget who I am. I get lost in things that don’t matter: my job and social networks, and just… objects. Things that we buy that we think we need, but all we’re doing is trying to distract ourselves from the quiet voice inside of us. The one saying something is missing…
I stepped outside today and I found it. The Spirit that makes me whole was waiting for me. As my hands sunk into the thick white fur of my husky, I listened to the songs of the birds.
Welcome home, they sang.
*Spirit: As Shakespeare said, “What’s in a name? A rose by any other name would still smell as sweet.” When I speak of the Spirit, I speak of my Creator as I know it. You may have another name. God, Yahweh, Unetlanvhi, Allah, Wakan Tanka… mine is Spirit because, like the word, I see the Spirit as an entity that is both intimately connected to us, and unimaginably greater than we can fathom. You cannot tame it or put it in a box, but you can embrace it and let it sweep you into balance and wake you to what it means to be alive. I realize on this trip I have been sleeping for a very long time.
It’s time now to wake up.