Sep 14 2009

“Draw the Circle Wide!”

As We Build the Beloved Community



“Draw the circle wide, draw the circle wide. No one stands alone, we’ll stand side by side. Draw the circle wide; draw it wider still. Let this be our song! No one stands alone. Standing side by side, draw the circle, draw the circle wide!”

            These are the words to a wonderful song, with music by Mark Miller and words by Gordon Light, and I can’t get it out of my head. Sometimes that’s an annoying thing—if I mention “It’s a Small World After All” from the old ride at Disneyland, how many of you will be a little annoyed with me? But to have “Draw the Circle Wide” singing in my heart is a joyous experience. We’ll be sharing this song on Homecoming Sunday, September 13—but more importantly, we’ll be reflecting this year on how we can “draw the circle wide” in our lives.

            It’s not that easy, is it? We’ve got to have big hearts and open minds to keep drawing the circle of our community, and of our love, wider still. Each of us has reasons to draw the circle of our friends and the circle of our attention narrower or closer from time to time. Sometimes our healing happens in small ways, in private corners, slowly.

            And sometimes the power of love can burst our hearts and minds open all over again. Then the hard-won fruits of our love—compassion, that deep empathy for another’s feelings or situation; and forgiveness, that soul-searching acceptance that every one of us makes mistakes and can strive to set ourselves right again—can grow sweet once more, and our lives expand and deepen.

            As I write, some of us have just participated in a weeklong spiritual practice called “Here If You Need Me.” Drawing a name at random, we called or wrote to someone in this congregation to say, “I’m here if you need me. If you want to talk, I want to listen. I just want you to know that I care.” When I got my call this week from the person who had drawn my name, I was astonished at the power of these simple words: “I’m here if you need me”—astonished, even though I had proposed this spiritual practice in the first place! What courage it takes to reach out in this way to another person, and what a difference such kindness can make in the everyday ups and downs of our lives. “No one stands alone; we’ll stand side by side.” When we practice “Here If You Need Me” week after week after week, our lives deepen and expand.

            As I write, some of us will be answering a Call for Commitment by contacting our congresspeople to urge them to pass health care reform—another spiritual practice tht embodies our care for each other and for people whom we have never met. All of our work for justice, all of our work to build a beloved community of acceptance for all, are ways to “draw the circle wide,” to expand and deepen our lives.

Go to if you’d like to hear “Draw the Circle Wide” sung by the Young Person’s Justice Chorale in Washington, D.C. Better yet, join us at FUCSJ for Homecoming Sunday, September 13! You can join the Massed Choir for Homecoming by showing up for choir rehearsal on Wednesday, September 9, from 7 to 9 p.m.

“Let this be our song! No one stands alone. Standing side by side, draw the circle, draw the circle wide!”


With much heart and hope,     Nancy

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