The waning moon, like an eye with her lid half shut watched me as I walked through the gate into the back pasture. It was 2:30 am, the dark sky was pierced with stars, the half-moon still bright enough to throw shadows.
I woke up with tears in my eyes and an overwhelming feeling of being disconnected from the world around me. It wasn’t loneliness but the feeling of being an outcast, of not belonging.
Out the window, moonlight glinted off the metal ridge cap on the barn roof. A sliver of light that beaconed to me. I kissed Jon’s head and slipped out of bed, quietly pulled on socks and pants under my nightgown and closed the bedroom door behind me.
Fate followed me into the back pasture, but the rest of the animals stayed behind. I stood on the highest point of the small hill and looked up at the sky. There were the few constellations I’m familiar with, Orion, the Big Dipper, The Seven Sisters and more groupings of stars that looked like they might be something.
When I looked down the frost on the grass sparkled in the moonlight, like tiny stars. And I felt as if I was being held between the stars in the sky and the stars under my feet.
The farm house and barn were toy sized in the distance. And as I looked at them I thought of how this was my home, that it all belonged to me.
But in the next instant I knew that I would only be here a short time. That the house and barn were already here longer than I’ve been alive. And the land, with its manmade boundaries, could never really belong to anyone.
That’s when I realized that it didn’t belong to me, but that I belonged to it.
To the house and the barn, to the seventeen acres of pasture and woods but also the land stretching out around it and under it, to the earth and the stars, the moon and the sky.
Suddenly I felt connected to something so much bigger than myself. And I was flooded with the feeling of belonging. I’m not an outcast, I thought, I know my place in the world.
On the way back to the house I fed the sheep and donkeys some apples, then had a cup of warm milk and went back to bed.
Jon was still sleeping when I crawled in next to him, and I quickly fell asleep feeling content and grounded in my new understanding of what it means to me to belong.