In Orthodox monasticism one engages in the discipline of discipleship by apprenticing oneself to an experienced Elder. That Elder shows by example, teaches by words and reflects the disciple back to himself. Discipleship is an authentic relationship; one in which the disciple learns how to see and to hear, how to be faithful while being open and vulnerable. All of which points out how crucial is the choice of one’s Elder!
What makes us “belong” somewhere? Immediately, my relationship with my Abba came to mind, as well as the answer to the question. It is relationship that makes us belong: relationship to others, to a place, to a culture, to God. There is the terrible possibility of our becoming émigrés from our own hearts when we become divorced from others, from geographical rootedness, from prayer.
Every time I have come to Hawaiʻi my brother Dan, who lives in Waikīkī, has met me in the baggage area of the airport with a double tuberose lei. Every time he has put the lei around my neck the smell of the tuberose reminds me that I am back in Hawaiʻi, back home where I have not yet moved!
So even scent can put us in relationship with someone, some place. Every so often I pass by the candle aisle in a store here in Georgia and get a whiff of tuberose… and I am back in relationship with my new spiritual Elder, Hawaiʻi, where I “belong”, with the One whom I love!