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acircleoflifeI come late today to this task because I sat with my coffee this morning recounting the story of the wedding reception I attended last evening. I have great hopes for this couple in their mid-twenties who have known each other since their first school dance in 7th grade and have grown in love until, at 1:00 yesterday afternoon, they joined in the sanctuary of the church with tears of joy (both of them!) that this moment had finally come. At the dinner reception I was reminded of the importance of family and friends in the lives of such a couple. Touching toasts to the groom and the bride, spoken by two brothers and two sisters, were concluded by two friends and followed by a beautiful  blessing by the father of the groom. As I heard the hopes for long life and “the blessing of children,” I was aware of the circle of life in this gathered community widening and being strengthened by this new family unit. There is no lack of wisdom in the elders who surround this couple and lots of companionship for the days to come.

I found fitting advice in the readings of today where I heard God warning us not to “oppress the alien, for you were once foreigners in a strange land.” (EX 22:20) and Jesus commanding us to “love our neighbors as ourselves.”

Unable to stop here in this reflection, I am pulled back into something I read during the past week from a book called In A Sacred Manner I Live. It is the line from Exodus, I think, that urges me to share a vision of Black Elk, holy man of the Oglala Sioux (when he was nine years old), that I would wish for our world and see as possible if we hold in our hearts the love generated at moments like those I experienced yesterday. Please indulge me and pray with me for such widening circles.

And a Voice said: “All over the universe they have finished a day of happiness. And looking down I saw that the whole wide circle of the day was beautiful and green, with all fruits growing and all things kind and happy. Then a Voice said: “Behold this day, for it is yours to make. Now you shall stand upon the center of the earth to see…”

Then I was standing on the highest mountain of them all, and round about beneath me was the whole hoop of the world. And while I stood there I saw more than I can tell and I understood more than I saw, for I was seeing in a sacred manner the shapes of all things in the spirit, and the shape of all shapes as they must live together like one being. And I saw that the sacred hoop of my people was one of many hoops that made one circle, wide as daylight and as starlight, and in the center grew one mighty flowering tree to shelter all the children of one mother and one father. And I saw that it was holy.

May it be so. Amen.