Open Circle

Lonely girl

I am rereading one of my favorite novels — listening to an audio-book, actually. It is entitled Jayber Crow – The life story of Jayber Crow, Barber, of the Port William membership, as written by himself.

This excerpt is part of a description of the narrator’s life in an orphanage called The Good Shepherd. It seems that many church experiences resemble an orphanage more than they do a family. In any case, I found these paragraphs moving, and applicable to the world of the small group fellowships of which we are a part, if not church communities wherever they are found.

I remember a little girl … who came to The Good Shepherd when she was about seven years old. She was a slight, brown-haired, sad-looking, lonesome-looking girl whose clothes did not fit. She looked accidental or unexpected, and seemed to be without expectation, and resigned, and so quiet that even in my selfishness I wished I knew of a way to help her. I watched her all the time. When her class went out to play, she did not take part but only stood back and watched the other girls. She always wore a dress that sagged, and brown cotton stockings that were always wrinkled. She was waiting. I did not understand that she was waiting, but she was. And then one day as her classmates were joining hands to play some sort of game, one of the girls broke the circle. She held out her hand to the newcomer to beckon her in. And E. Lawler ran into the circle and joined hands with the others.

 ~Jayber Crow. By Wendell Berry. Chapter 4. 

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