by Laurie Klein
My love, to loving God above,
captures me in the round of love.
HE NEVER SAW IT FALL. There was no warning. No sound. No telltale chafe of metal over his knuckle. Unbeknownst to us—perhaps while raking garden refuse into a waist-high pile—my husband’s wedding ring slid from his finger. In that moment, one of our vow’s gleaming emblems vanished.
Time passed. Rain fell. His ring finger still bare, the tan line faded. And month by month, the ragged heap decomposed.
A few years later while harvesting the rich loam, his shovel clinked: Compost surrendered gold. Finding the ring at ground level beneath that crumbly mound bowled us over. Wonderstruck, he slipped his finger inside the band—still intact, a shape without end, albeit tarnished.
“A circle is a line that took a walk,” someone once said, “and returned home.”
Every imagined point on a circle lies equidistant from the center: silent perfection, uninterrupted. That simple image reflects God’s work from the beginning, when “[The Creator] . . . inscribed a circle on the face of the waters at the boundary between light and darkness” (Job 26:10 ESV).
In later centuries Celtic Christians sometimes surrounded their stone churches with crosses, as if to guard sanctuary, a place hemmed in by the love of Christ. Resisting the forces of darkness, Irish worshippers also composed encircling prayers: loricas (acknowledging the shield of God’s encompassing presence) and caims (invoking divine protection on all sides). Some believers even turned clockwise while praying, simultaneously honoring the sun’s path and visualizing divine provision vast as the compass points.
What goes around . . .
Circles also have a dark side. Recently during an argument with the Almighty, I thought about Moses, barefoot, at the burning bush. Afraid to help the Hebrew slaves escape Egypt, Moses verbally sparred several rounds with God, piling one lame excuse atop another. Those same people, later miraculously released, muddled and looped through the wilderness for the next forty years.
Was I caught in a cycle of fear and complaint? Would noting actual circles within my surroundings reanimate ancient lessons of faith? Perhaps I’d glimpse joy, a metaphorical glint of gold hidden within seeming darkness, dross, and debris.
The child within
Today, an annual global observance beckons the child in us all. On November 2 participants celebrate circles: buttons and wheels, crowns and dials; wreaths, clock faces, labyrinths, gears; bubbles and bird nests; wells, snickerdoodles, marbles, bowls; portholes, rosaries, Frisbees, coins.
Luci Shaw wrote, “Beyond these circles I can see / the circle of eternity.”
Whether we whirl or eddy, at our most alive we orbit Christ “in whom all things hold together” (Col. 1:17). Habitual actions offer more opportunities. In the act of a moment—commonplace, yet personal—we embody or even complete circles, each time we . . .
- latch an anklet
- cinch a belt
- thread a hoop through a pierced ear
- clasp a necklace
- button a collar
- tie a trusty Windsor knot
- fasten a bracelet
- buckle a watchband
- twist a ring back into place
On any given day (and each one is given), ankles, waists, ears, necks, wrists, or fingers are embraced. The body itself might become a prayer. What words of blessing might we speak (or sing) while we carry out a familiar move?
Single or married, we know as the bride of Christ our fingers already bear the invisible imprint of God’s ring—a mark perhaps lost for a time when we were ardently sought in the darkness, then returned. To God. And to one another.
Like the line that took a walk, we are lovingly spliced back into the circle.
Listen: “Circle Me, Lord,” from A Thin Silence, by Jeff Johnson
Listen: Absorb this beautiful song, “Circle Me, Oh Lord,” from Amazing Grace: Celtic Hymns and Blessings, by David Huntsinger
Ponder: Read Rilke’s poem, “Widening Circles” (scroll down to fourth audio selection).
Savor: Admire these breathtaking curves throughout the famous basilica, Sagrada Familia, symbol of Barcelona, Spain (under construction since 1882, projected completion, 2026). BEGIN AT TIME STAMP 2:40.
Create: Take a gentle walk with a camera. Pause in a spot that compels your eye and spirit. Prayerfully “receive” (rather than “take”) four separate pictures, shifting a quarter turn for each shot. Do you sense an insight or invitation? How will you respond?
Listen to the Green, Luci Shaw
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