Yesterday was Canada Day-the birthday of this exquisite country that’s been my home for most of my adult life.

I went for a walk this morning, and was struck by the purity of the air, which fills my lungs with sweet, life-giving oxygen. By how clean the dirt path is, under my feet. By lush and sparkling beauty all around me. Tall cedars and firs, in shades of rich viridian green, reach upwards into clear blue sky. Grasses along the side of the road sway gently in the breeze, their ripe heads nodding in blessing.

Above all, I am surrounded by silence and silver bird calls, enveloped in a friendly solitude that puts me firmly in the midst of the natural world. I pass just one other person on my walk. She waves as she jogs by. The morning is mine to savor. And savor it I do!

I’m in love with this place, this seaside village where I live, this country that is so shyly generous, that offers itself modestly, without fanfare. I’m in love with this place that is my home. My home!

I’m an egg that’s found its nest.

It wasn’t always like this. For much of my early life, I longed to belong. To my family, who gave me love, shelter and the safety of tender hearts, but to whom I remained a mystery. To the world of my school, where all the girls seemed to know the secret of How to Be that eluded me completely. To India, which embraced me in one breath and repulsed me in the next.

I longed to be like everyone else. And yet, I wasn’t. (Neither was anyone else, but I didn’t know this then!) The pain of being different is a two-edged sword-to feel separate from others shreds the heart. But the deepest cut comes from feeling separate from yourself, from your own tender, radiant spirit.

That longing to belong took me on a journey far from myself. And stranded me on alien shores, far from the hearth of my heart.

Now here I am, almost sixty years old, surprised by belonging. It slipped in when I wasn’t looking. By living my life, I’ve made a life. Here in the Pacific Northwest, halfway across the world from where I was born.

I’ve rolled into the nest that perfectly cups my heart.

Happy birthday, Canada!