Making a Circle

Making a Circle
The table is where it happens.

It’s chaotic, usually. You grab the dishes, make sure there’s something green (or slightly healthy), you pour the milk and get everybody to sit down. Just pause a minute. After the sixth time we put Little One back in his chair and swat the dog away from the table because she is snacking every time we’re not looking, we stop. We pause. We reach out and take hands because we are trying to make a ritual out of this anything-but-refined meal. We sing the blessing and hold the hands.

We were at the table this weekend with more guests than usual. For Dad’s birthday, we cooked for him. Nothing says love to Dad like a home cooked meal, so that is what we made. And like we do, we tumbled into the dining room in a chaotic storm. I don’t know how nice, quiet families calmly sit down to a meal, but we are basically the opposite of them. We are a loud whirlwind of plate carrying (husband), telling (Mom), barking (three dogs), commenting (Sister and Brother), requesting (Little One. And his grandmother), bossing (Me), and spilling (husband). The honored guest, dear old Dad, just sat there watching us whirl around him.

And then we paused. We reached out hands and began to sing our blessing, when Little One, shouted, “Wait! Look!” He was so excited to recognize what he saw as we held hands:

“We making a circle!”

Yes, we are. Around the table, our reach to one another shaped something that even this three year old could recognize. Our circle was not a fixed construct, a showpiece just waiting there for us to admire, but a dynamic, living thing in the making. The making of the circle happened in the reaching of sticky fingers towards grill stained hands and wrinkled knuckles. The making of the circle happened in the pause. In the singing of blessing.

His proclamation stayed with me all week. Through the day to day chaos. Through the messes and the laughs. His proclamation took my breath away when I saw it around another table last night.

We gathered for worship. We sang and heard and spoke and Amen’d. We baptized a young boy. We commissioned him with salt and light. Then we closed with a song, an old one that still sings truth: One in the Bond of Love. As preachers are apt to do, mine challenged us with one more thing: reach out and take someone’s hand as we sing.

Hand holding is tricky when you’re stuck in pews.

So, without instruction, people just started moving. Reaching. Turning around to reach toward the nearest person to grab a hand. As the song continued and the hands held fast, I recognized what I saw.

“We making a circle.”

Our reaching made us move. Our outstretched hands shaped something that people could recognize. A shape that connected the elderly man on my right with the young, divorced woman to my left. A shape that made us into the words that we sang. This dynamic, living thing happened in the moving and in the singing. It is happening, still. A circle is in the making.

On our drive home, we talked about our circle and the extraordinary act of embodying the words as we sang them. My husband pointed out that we made this shape without instructions, without it printed in any bulletin: “A circle is the Church’s default position, I think.”

Because the hands are connected to one another, grasping people not agendas, tying generations together. Because we could really see each other and we could see what we centered around.

Because the only thing necessary to widen the circle – and surely it does need widening – was not a commitee meeting but an outstretched hand. Because it happened in the moving.

We are making a circle.

You might also enjoy these posts


 

I Brave

Deep waters, flames, and fears have come before. They will probably come again. But the narrative I want my child to have, and the narrative I hope to voice continually for myself and for my family is this: Fear doesn’t win. We are strong. And just in case we’re not brave enough, we will be brave for each other.

read more

Too much for the Methodists

Today’s Wednesday Prayer is brought to you by one of my favorites – favorite writer, favorite truth teller, favorite singer. She just happens to be my favorite sister, too. She led in worship on All Saints Day last week, and wrote this gorgeous prayer. I’m told that her instructions were, “Yes, you can be yourself. Put in enough Ashley that it’s you, but not so much that you scare the Methodists.”  Now, I know Methodists don’t scare easily, and neither does God. I’m thankful that Ashley put her whole self in the prayer. Methodists – and Baptists – would do well to realize what a gift they have in counting Ashley among their own. A General Thanksgiving for All Saints Day by Ashley Robinson Blessed Comforter, we thank you for the lives of the poets, the prophets, and the profane; the well-behaved and the rabble-rousers, the peacemakers, the music makers, the noisemakers, the caramel cake makers and the mess makers; the list keepers and the delightfully scattered, and even the unnamed, undocumented, and unmentionable people who have gone before us. We thank you for the great cloud of witnesses that shades us with comfort as we continue to walk each other home. We thank you for the saints still among us who awaken us to the possibility of your kindom here on earth. We thank you for the borrowed breath that sustains us from dust to dust. We find hope that you hear every damning why, every shattered Hallelujah, every tear-ragged thank you as a groaning to be filled with your life-giving spirit that welcomes us into community with the... read more

Saving Your Life

I peeked out my upstairs, bedroom window on November 1, about 8:00 am, and looked out into our backyard. Amidst the sunlight peering through fall leaves and the dew glistening on the grass, I saw . . . A tiny storm trooper running full speed through the yard. My little four-year old neighbor. Our dog barking her head off alerted me to this visitor outside. I couldn’t quite get my early-morning brain to pull thoughts together and figure out why he was there, and where his mom was. We had celebrated Halloween with friends and their littles the night before, so I wondered: Did he sleep in his costume last night? (Makes total sense) Did we forget someone when we all went to bed last night? Then, I found my phone and saw this text:   After dying laughing, I searched my son’s room and found the mask under a pile of toys and clothes. Obviously. I ran outside and delivered the mask to the little storm trooper and his super-mom in the mini-van. That one is only topped by the text from earlier in the week that made me DIE laughing. I can’t. Cannot. The image of my 100 percent stylish, Type A, take-on-the-world friend hoisting herself onto a mannequin to strip him down made me sit right down and laugh. Which always makes my day brighter. There was also this honest lament made me howl: I mean. Tiny Sister Friend KNOWS the truth about her favorite clothes. She won’t get to wear them again. Probably not ever. Who among us has not felt bummed about a favorite... read more

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Share This