Monday, June 14, 2010
Widening Circles. Plus Cat Armor and Too Much Fried Shrimp.
So reach out and welcome one another to God's glory.
Romans 15:7, The Message
Excuse the sandy shoes and piles of dirty laundry, y'all.
We're just back from a few days at the beach, and we've got the wet bathing suits and tummies full of fried shrimp to prove it. (I shall be eating lettuce and carrots for the next three weeks lest my vital organs band together and picket in protest!)
It was a wonderful trip, but it was different.
It wasn't because of the oil spill. We go to the Carolina beaches, which are still clean, thank goodness. Still, every time we looked out at the horizon, we thought about areas that aren't so lucky.
No, the difference was of a more personal nature.
For the last eleven years, it's been just the five of us. Me, Todd, Sarah, Ben, and Sam.
Mother, father, sister, brothers.
This year we turned a new page, a page that sort of blows my mind.
A page that makes me feel old and crinkly, like a dried apple doll left to rot in the sun. You know what we did?
We added a boyfriend and girlfriend to our circle!
Yes, to the delight of my almost 20 year old girl and almost 18 year old boy, we invited what my mother-in-law used to call their "special friends."
I knew this boy and girl and enjoyed them already, so I was happy about this.
A small voice inside me wondered how this might change things.
What if they weren't willing to stand on the porch for hours at a time, playing our hook the ring game?
Or what if they thought it was weird that we park our lawn chairs under the pier with the other pale people and eat at Miss Ella's three nights in a row? What if they didn't want to see a nature movie at the IMAX theater or eat snow cones until their teeth turn blue?
No, it wasn't our usual trip.
It was even better.
Because they were with us, we behaved ourselves! And we made even more of an effort to have fun.
We even tried some new things and made up new traditions, though I'm not sure our trip through Ripley's Believe it or Not needs to be repeated. One tour of the shrunken body parts, the belly button lint collection, and the suit of armor for a cat may be enough to last a lifetime.
Anyway, because they were with us, we laughed harder, talked more, and listened longer than ever before.
I'm so glad that we widened our circle.
It's made me think about widening the circles in other areas of my life.
Widening my circle means that I have to let go a little, and change can be scary.
We wonder what changes newcomers might bring to our comfy way of life, to our traditions and habits. We worry that their presence might make things awkward, that they won't fit in, or maybe even that we won't fit in anymore, at least not in the same way.
But when we let go of fear and drop the concept of insiders and outsiders, we open ourselves for all sorts of possibilities.
We get to know more unique children of God. We open ourselves to more joy.
And occasionally we get to see a suit of armor for a cat.
(Be glad I didn't choose the photo of the belly button lint collection.)
Maybe God calls us to welcome each other because He knows it can make us happy. After all, God is the Great Welcomer.
I want to welcome others to my circle like God does. The way He does in Psalm 5:
But you'll welcome us with open arms when we run for cover to you. Let the party last all night! Stand guard over our celebration. You are famous, God, for welcoming God-seekers, for decking us out in delight.
Psalm 5: 11-12, The Message
Have a great Monday, y'all! I hope it's decked out in delight!
Before you go, I'd love to hear about the circles you run in. Do they widen easily, or does it take a crowbar? What about faith communities in general? How well does yours do at making room for others?