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 and took him In!
— Edwin Markham
Seventeen years ago I found this poem written on a tiny scrap of paper tucked in my grandmother’s well-worn and highlighted bible just after she died at the age of 100. It was one of a few loose notes she had written and kept in the book where she sought to know and discover more of God.
It’s titled Outwitted. I don’t know what it meant to her, I plan to ask her someday, but every time I read it I am overwhelmed with the measureless all transforming nature of the love of God.
This world is full of devastating circles that shut out, the lies of ‘us’ and ‘them,’ separation, distance and delay, offense, retribution; but love doesn’t play by the rules of good and evil. Love outwits our finite death devotion, our laws of good, and evil and evil and evil and evil.
Love is a self-giving circle that takes everyone in; He hung on a cross and gave forgiveness and belonging and union and reconciliation, not counting our circles against us. And we have been invited to become one with this love, so the whole world would know (see John 17:25).
But love and I had the wit to win: We drew a circle and took him In!
That is the gospel of Jesus on a cross; that no matter the circles drawn to shut people out, Love draws bigger circles, Love says, “We all belong!”
I recently watched this powerful talk on compassion by Father Greg Boyle. I’d recommend watching it. We belong to each other is a powerful truth that changes how we interact with one another and ultimately the world. Radical compassion requires us to believe there is no “us and them.” There is only us. No one is outside the circle.