Drawing Circles

When I was in high school my dad clipped a passage for me from a book or newspaper. I don’t remember where he got it, and I wish I still had the clipping, which contained a homily about God’s universal love for his children. I do remember that the clipping quoted this short poem by Edwin Markham:

Outwitted

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 in!

I was shaken last night by this news. I shed some tears, and I know that many people are troubled and grieving. I don’t think it’s my place to weigh in on the specifics of these cases. This post on BCC articulates my feelings pretty well. However, I do have a strong opinion about a disturbing phenomenon I’ve witnessed in internet comments, FB posts, and private conversations: schadenfreude. Glee. Gloating. I find it sickening that anyone would be happy to see a brother or sister leave our ranks. John Donne famously wrote that he felt diminished by any man’s death. We should feel similarly diminished by any loss, no matter how it comes about.

I went for a nice long run this morning and got drenched in the fog. I felt refreshed by the quiet and the beauty of the forest preserve where I run. I recommend it to anyone feeling wounded right now.

As I ran, I kept repeating Markham’s epigram in my mind. I don’t think it’s great poetry. If I encountered it for the first time today, I might dismiss it as sentimental doggerel. But it’s a great sentiment. I’m glad my dad passed it on to me. I want to draw bigger circles, not smaller ones.

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