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Marvin Repinski: Circles of our lives

Most of us wear a number of hats (masks?). It doesn’t mean we “change” personalities, but that we are a part of a variety of promises, roles and commitments. We wear a number of hats!

Or look at it another way. Think of your life in terms of circles. Your primary circle may be your relationship to God — however that is understood and expressed. But there are “circles” of friends, family, life, job, retirement activities, leisure, the world of sports and recreation, eating out groups, clubs, school and social or professional groups. You could add many other ways you invest your time or yield to the expectations of others, grant your energy or honor your covenants. We immediately note how many of these circles are overlapping. Now in this pandemic, we of necessity in real life identify with those in loss, pain and grief.

• Hats — To reflect on this idea of “hats” or “circles” is a way of recognizing our differences and the variety of persons in the life of our community. We don’t have to be joyful with one kind of flower; we can revel in a garden of many kinds of flowers. You are a “flower.” I am a flower of sorts in knowing a variety of members in the greater Austin area.

Choice is usually involved in the manner of our settling what we like or dislike. The number of “hats” or automobiles from foreign countries may be a surprise to some. A list from a few years ago finds these cars available in the United States. Persons attracted to foreign-made cars have to negotiate between these. There may be others too: Volkswagen, Volvo, Mercedes, Toyota, Austin American, Fiat, Peugeot, Citroen, Jaguar, Saab, Alfa-Romeo, Audi, BMW, Datsun, Rolls-Royce, Ferrari. The person who chooses a particular brand may vote Republican. A person selecting the same brand of car may vote Democrat. Figure it out!

• Dogs and Dogma — Dorothy Parker is credited with a truism:  “You can’t teach old dogmas to do new tricks.” Actually, dogs can be taught new ways of responding and give the owners new behaviors. Ask out-going Mayor Tom Stiehm. He has two dogs. And maybe it’s because he is such a stable, loving and resourceful person that his dogs have been educated to please a loving owner.

My suggestion is that a person can moderate, enlarge, or even exchange habits that are part of a particular “circle.” An example today is seen in the flack directed against Pope Francis. He is moving. He is engaged in a gigantic task of enlarging some traditions that are, by some, viewed as treating persons as “outsiders.” Because of gender or particular behaviors, they are no longer seen as inferiors.

• Wisdom — In the arena of religion, I suggest a most thoughtful, some would say “holy,” author. Joan Chittister, a member of a Roman Catholic Church order, a Benedictine abbess, has broken new ground, including former “outsiders” into her spiritual “circle.” She wrote the book “Welcome to the Wisdom of the World.” Her book is an insight and appreciation of several of the major world religions. Her word, as I see it, is inclusion, not exclusion. Her vision is to utilize the word “mercy.” not “judgment.” Her emphasis is on loyalties and consequences. Maybe it’s necessary to draw between the lines. As a Protestant (Methodist), I can sing with my Catholic and Unitarian friends. Turkey Day will find persons of various backgrounds praying together. This Christmas, I can sing “Away in a Manger, no crib for a bed.” Many who are not usual church-goers will be in attendance with their singing voices too. And I can say, “Please Lord Jesus, come to me.  May my heart be your crib.” I also pray that other “cribs” be made available.