"Solitude lies at the lowest depth of the human condition. Man is the only being who feels himself to be alone and the only one who is searching for the Other." Octavio Paz [1914-1998] The Labyrinth of Solitude [El Labrinto de la Soledad] , Appendix
When was the last time you drew a circle? Was it when you saw
steam in a mirror or frost on a window - or you were at Macaroni Grill and
there on the paper table cloth - was a box of crayons?
This Sunday we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King.
The title of my homily is, “Circles.”
Since this feast is trying to get at something - and since
the idea of king and kingdom - have sort of slipped away from our political realities and imaginings - I began wondering where to go with this
feast for Christ as King.
I’ve heard people talk about protecting one’s turf - or
someone guarding their territory - so as
I began exploring the idea of having one’s territory - space - area - fiefdom
- and trying to protect the who and the what within our circles - as well as to
keep people out of our space or stuff - or what have you. Thinking about all that triggered the idea of reflecting
We might not talk about kings and kingdoms - in the year
2013 - except in the UK -
the United Kingdom
- but we still talk about circles.
Inner circle - outer circle - family circle - political
circles.... Do they still have sewing circles? I know they had quilting parties
- but are they called “quilting circles” anywhere?
For the sake of a sermon, let me present 3 considerations about circles.
CONSIDERATION - MAKE A LIST
The first consideration would be to list our circles - our
spheres - the circles we spend our time in and life in and with.
In a given week - where are we - where do we spend our time?
Get a piece of paper and draw 5 or 7 circles.
Put a single name in each circle for the 5 or 7 key people
in your life. Someone said if you have 5 friends in one’s life, you’re a lucky
Get another piece of paper and draw 5 or 7 circles - and
list your circles: home, work, organizations, bridge friends or poker buddies,
[Is that like the difference between power boat people and sail boat people?] - walking or running or exercise groups - church - book clubs or what have you.
What would happen if someone realized they were the only
circle in their life - and they won’t let anyone into their inner circle.
Remember the old saying: “A person wrapped up in themselves makes a pretty
small package.” What would happen if someone realized in doing this that we are one big circle - and we're one with everyone on this big round circle called our world?
CONSIDERATION - POSITIVE OR NEGATIVE?
The second consideration would be to evaluate our circles. Which circles give
me life? Which circles drain me?
Am a problem or am I a solution in the circles I spin around
Some circles are beautiful - life giving - and some circles
are vicious circles.
Some of the circles I live and move in give me growth - and some
cause me decay and death.
In evaluating our circles we might grab another piece of
paper and draw some more circles. We begin thinking outside the box - oops - outside the circles we’ve
been focusing on. We realize this image of circle is not flat - just one line - just one dimension like a crayon drawing of a circle - but we see a ball. We realize the image of a circle - bounces around our brain - and we see that life itself has other types of circles. There are circles everywhere. We have seen the human cell in drawings. We've seen basketballs and ping pong balls. We see tires and the sun, the moon and the stars. We see necklaces and ear rings with cricles. And we've see those gold circles on fingers - called rings. We begin thinking about that circle called a wedding ring. If married, how is my
marriage going? Are other circles swallowing up my primary relationships? When
looking up quotes on circles I found the following quote from a 1797 play
entitled, The Double Callant - Act 1, scene ii.- by Colley Cibber [1671-1757].
One of the actors says, “Oh, how many torments lie in the small circle of a
One of my favorite singers was Harry Chapin - and I’ve
listened to his CD’s while driving many, many a time. I love his song, “All my
Life’s A Circle.” It brings out the over and over and over
again we are a circle as we experience in life cycle. “Sunrise
and sundown, Moon rolls through the night-time till daybreak comes around.”
“Seasons spinning round again, the years keep rolling by.” The song brings out:
“Seems like I’ve been here before.” Life is déjà vu all over again.
We’re ending this church year this week. We’re heading for one more
Family Thanksgiving - and Advent and Christmas - and Christmas shopping - and winter and the return again of snow and
cold in the forecast.
Harry Chapin sings that there are no straight lines - “all my roads are
bends”. “There’s no clear-cut beginning
and so far no dead ends.”
Harry Chapin died on the road - in a horrible car accident - and his
circle ended - yet his songs sing on.
We reflect - that we are continuing the cycle of life of our parents and their
parents - and we hope our legacy - our goodness will roll on.
For years I’ve been interested in Native American
Their art work…. their dancing …. their religion …. their lives are very much
based on circles.
Black Elk [1863-1950] -
a famous Native American said, “Everything an Indian does is in a
circle, and that is because the power of the world always works in circles, and
everything tries to be round. In the old
days when we were a strong and happy people, all our power came to us from the
sacred hoop of the nation, and so long as the hoop was unbroken the people
flourished.” From Black Elk Speaks,
Being the Life Story of a Holy Man of the Oglala.
That quote has
triggered for me the question why they didn’t come up with the wheel - instead of
long tent poles being dragged along the ground pulled by horses.
So my second consideration is to evaluate - wonder - ask
questions about our circles. Are they giving me life or draining me?
THIRD CONSIDERATION - BREAKING THE CIRCLE
We were taught in Theology and Bible Studies early on - that
Judaism and Christianity - broke the circle - and became linear.
Christ came to change the world!
For doing so he was killed - murdered - as we heard in
A message for us is where do I have to change and grow.
Where do I have to die to self - so that I can rise to newness of life.
For example - relevant to what I’m trying to say here is the
famous little poem called, “Outwitted” by Edwin Markham 1852-1940]
“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 that took him
That is basic Christ. Here he is in today’s gospel with two
men - one shutting him out and the other bringing Christ in - and Christ brings
him into paradise.
Jesus formed his small circle - and he broke the cycle
Judaism was going in - and his small
circle now includes well over a billion people called Christian.
We have the choice to close in on ourselves - or to expand.
I have always understood the word Catholic to mean “All” or
“Universal” “the whole catalogue of people” Kata Holos in Greek.
I don’t know about you - but so far I am enthused - celebrating - that our new
Pope seems to be opening up the edges of some of the closed circles in
Catholicism - and I hear about people wanting back into the circle called the
Body of Christ. Amen.