You Belong

*A Poem often read at the beginning of our events

For the skinny boy, hopeless romantic,
           Swimming in a sea of masculinity
           Heart shattered into a million pieces
           Wondering “when will I belong?”
For the “overweight” girl, wanting to airbrush her thoughts
           Covering up in clothes in order to hide her skin
           Trying on another diet
For the paycheck to paycheck parents
           Overcome with the flames of consumerism
           Burned out with saying, “No, we just can’t buy it”
           Wondering “when will I belong?”
For the elderly
           Walled up in a rest home, lost in transition
           Having so much still to give
           Wondering “when will I belong?”
For the ex-con
           With no job, mounds of a debt
           With stigma written on his resume, arms, and neck
           Wondering “when will I belong?”
For the thrift store shopper, bargain isle hopper
           Buying their 10th pair of Velcro shoes
           Not because they want to but because the have to
           Wondering “when will I belong?”

For the outcast sitting alone at lunch period
Staring across the quad at the popular kids
Wondering “when will I belong?”
And for the struggling mom
Sifting through her instagram
Staring across the city at the popular kids
Wondering “when will I belong?”

Perhaps not realizing that the popular
Drowning in their popularity
Striving to maintain perfection
Are all asking…the same question:
When will I belong?

So today,
            I make a declaration:


Perhaps without knowing how, or without any effort of your own.


Your existence screams for belonging.
Your presence, your planted feet,
The space that you occupy
Makes our community more complete.


If you are well fed from conversation
Or empty with loneliness

If you always seem to be the life of the party
If you can’t seem to finish a conversation,
Slap yourself for talking too much,
Make dumb jokes
Every exchange you feel like a burden
Eyes of others drift around the room looking for a more important person


If you reside in the hills or your car or a tent in the creek
If you live all alone whether by choice or circumstance
Or your couching surfing through jam packed two bedroom apartments


If you know exactly who you are
Or spent your whole life still wondering


The self-disciplined and the addict.


If you’re used to saying the words, “I love you mom and dad”
Or if life has been one long stretch toward the family you never had
Or if your foster parents are doing the best they can
But you all realize for the first time, they’ll never understand

Male, female, somewhere outside or in-between
Finally trying to lift your voice to the song you need to sing


If, for 50 years, you’ve been blessed to call the same place home.
Or travelled a thousand miles and still have no where to call your own.
If your life has been ripped out from under you, fleeing to be free
No longer in the same place but displaced, now called a refugee


Rooted deep in your culture
Or rediscovering your origins
Unearthing past oppressors, oppressions, and cultural abortion
Or lost in a plastic experience, where all the tastes are bland
For the first time realizing this is not really your ancestors land…

If you pride yourself on equity and feel you’ve covered all the bases
Or like an alcoholic your brave enough to stand and say, “Hi I’m Sam, I’m Racist”.

If you were born with all the right documents
In a nation filled with immigrants
Or if your status causes arguments,
If not treated as equal
Your presence, beliefs, and people
Are often considered evil…
Listen, no human being is illegal.



No one’s story too odd not to be heard…I think of the Zulu word
Ubuntu…meaning Humanity.
All interconnected, a thousand different versions,
built to lift each other’s burdens.
A person is a person through other persons.
In the words of Teresa, whom we often called Mother
“If we have no peace it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other”.

            I am because we are.
            You are because we are.
            We are because we are.

Longing to be?


There’s a table prepared for all who are hungry, it’s free
No one’s excluded, no matter your label or history
Like a beggar I’ve come with this bread I have found
Not having all answers, but dammit! I will no longer be bound.
You who are loved,

…come join the song

You Belong.

Let’s write a new story of belonging together….