The Gift of the Misfit Community

Staff_McDermott, TomI want to live in the world, not inside my head
I want to live in the world, I want to stand and be counted
With the hopeful and the willing
With the open and the strong
With the voices in the darkness
Fashioning daylight out of song
And the millions of lovers
Alive in the world

I want to live in the world, not behind some wall
I want to live in the world, where I will hear if another voice should call
To the prisoner inside me
To the captive of my doubt
Who among his fantasies harbors the dream of breaking out
And taking his chances
Alive in the world

To open my eyes and fully arrive in the world

Jackson Browne, singer and songwriter, has been an advocate for peace, justice, and the environment for more than 40 years. His song above, “Alive in the World,” as much of his own life, captures something of the “misfit” spirit of those who come to find themselves in the Dark Wood of their lives, embrace the deeper gifts and wisdom there, and choose to live in the world more fully and compassionately as a consequence.

This Sunday is Palm Sunday and the beginning of Holy Week. It is also the last Sunday in our Lenten Series, Gifts of the Dark Wood (reflections on the book by Eric Elnes). I can’t think of a better way to start Holy Week than a look at this Sunday’s theme, “The Gift of the Misfit Community,” as we reflect on Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on a donkey; the challenges to power and hatred he will face; and his unflinching message of God’s love, peace, and reconciliation in the face of that religious and social exclusivity, divisiveness, and oppression.

There is a Calvin and Hobbes comic strip that shows young Calvin, uncombed hair and striped T-shirt, with his existential co-conspirator-Zen-monk-like stuffed tiger, Hobbes, standing in the middle of a concrete square on the sidewalk on a sunny day.

Calvin points to both ends of the square in frame one and says, “Let’s say life is this square of the sidewalk. We’re born at this crack and we die at that crack.”

In the next frame, he ponders, “We find ourselves somewhere inside the square, and in the process of walking out of it. Suddenly we realize our time in here is fleeting!”

In the third frame he adds more anxiously, “Is our quick experience here pointless? Does anything we say or do in here really matter? Have we done anything important? Have we been happy? HAVE WE MADE THE MOST OF THESE PRECIOUS FEW FOOTSTEPS?”

The fourth frame shows the two of them, Calvin and his now troubled Hobbes, still on the same square, but now beneath stars of nighttime, still staring at that far line of the square — and completely immobilized.

This Sunday, Palm Sunday, we look at how we sometimes find ourselves stuck in the middle of this square of life, in the middle of our moments, in the middle of our dilemmas, even in the darkest corners of life. The gift of the “misfit” invites us to move forward into the darkness, to join with others in this mystery, to be more alive in the world.



Palm Sunday, April 9

Gifts of the Dark Wood:

“the gift of the misfit community”

rev. tom mcdermott

with eleven:eleven revolution, poetry and spoken word, and the music of

Mavis Staples, James Taylor, and the Old 97’s


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