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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Being Out of Place

by Tom Pappas

In Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Behavior, climate change nudged the monarch population that for millennia (as far as we know) has over-wintered in Mexico to inexplicably settle for the winter months in Appalachia. I cite this wonderful novel as an example of the butterflies being out of place.

A story on the radio Sunday told of a former Adventist clergyman who has decided to live for a year without God. He is out of place as his denomination has cut him loose, and some atheists are pleased but others are suspicious.

Then there was the ladybug at worship yesterday. I found myself wondering what brings an out of season insect to a Presbyterian Church in January. She may have hitched in on the chancel flowers, but this I do know – I was more than partially distracted from “Developing Christian Character” as I monitored her progress along the pew back. This creature was clearly out of place.

Feeling out of place may be worse than being out of place. I have spent a good amount of my lifetime with that feeling and I don’t like it one bit. I have a highly developed “introvert-o-meter” and can generally spot fellow I’s in the room. It turns out that I am better at moving a ladybug to a ficus tree in the fellowship room than easing someone’s social discomfort – nonetheless I try.  It’s my goal to reduce the number of people who feel out of place.

Do you often feel out of place? Are you called to help others feel at home in God’s world?

FYI: During the sermon Ms. Ladybug proceeded several feet on the very top of the back of the pew, and just before she reached college sophomore, Claire’s long blond hair to climb aboard, Claire leaned forward. When Claire sat back I lost visual contact for the rest of the service. After the postlude the ladybug was discovered between the cushion and the pew back. She posed on the hymnal before relocation to the ficus tree.

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