By Cherrie Barton Henry, Associate Pastor for Congregational Care & Mission
He drew a circle that shut me out –
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle and took him in!
― Edwin Markham
I taped this pithy little poem into the blank blue flowered “quote journal” that was given to me by a member of my congregation when I graduated from high school in 1979.
All these years later I still think on that little poem from time to time.
Watching God draw big circles never gets old for me. The poem, like the stories in Genesis – and all throughout the Bible really – reminds me that given the freedom to do so, we humans are prone to drawing small circles. Tight-hearted, cramped circles; circles that cut off not only others, but even whole parts of our own selves. After all, there’s a bit of a heretic, rebel, and things to ‘flout” in each of us. But heretics and rebels and flouting things also have much to teach us. When we shut them out, we miss out on their lessons.
When I read a story like Joseph’s and his brothers, I for one am glad that it is God’s wit – God’s intellect, compassion, wisdom, and strong abiding love – that wins out. I’m glad God draws BIG circles. Circles that again and again draw all of me and all of you and creation with us, in. Spacious circles where love, joy, and freedom come to us anew.
Here’s to looking for God’s big circles, friends!