photo: Poppies growing behind the fence
Sometimes the organizations we form to celebrate connections end up separating us.
I realized this in the first grade, the day our friend Diana showed up at school after lunch with her short pixie cut hair full of bobby pins trying desperately to hold tiny braids together. It looked ridiculous. Earlier that day four or five of us were walking arm in arm in arm as little girls do, in a kind of six year-old chorus line. We were members of the French braid club. We had all worn braids that day and formed a band of sisters on that basis. I hadn’t noticed until Diana returned from lunch, that our basis for commonality excluded a sweet girl we all loved.
I think denominations are like that. At first we are excited about finding we share common beliefs with others and form First Church of the Tidy Braids. Do we have stories! Sometimes we are so busy rejoicing in finding each other we don’t realize our denomination has excluded some lovely people with short hair.
That which was meant to bring people together ends up keeping people apart. A denomination formed around a common experience or emphasis may at first be a sheltering, warm, encouraging place, but within a generation or two it attempts to redefine what it means to be “in” or “out” of the kingdom of God.
I took a photo of these poppies growing behind the fence as the last light of a slow summer day highlighted their beauty. I don’t have any poppies inside my garden. I wish I did.