Why “The Corners”?
When looking out the window of an airplane at the geometry of industrial agriculture below me, I’d wonder (like a dumbass city girl) why in the world do farmers plant circles of crops in lots that are square?
Well, after a little research I discovered that in 1940, just twenty-nine miles from my apartment, a man named Frank Zybach invented the center-pivot irrigation system, essentially revolutionizing farming in America. In his system, the watering equipment turns on a pivot, allowing sprinklers to water crops in a circular pattern. It ends up, the crops aren’t planted in circles; they’re just watered that way. The water never gets to the crops in the corners.
God planted so many of us in the corners. And yet the center-pivot teachings of the church never seem make their way to us. (I made the case for this specifically concerning the church’s teachings around sex and sexuality, in the introduction to my latest book, SHAMELESS).
Corners are what you make them
When my kids were little we had a VHS tape they loved titled, Yoga Kids. They would joyfully make the shapes of dogs and triangles and turtles with the small bodies while I joyfully got a break for 20 minutes.
Once, Harper had done something naughty but unremarkable, and we send her to time-out, in the corner. When I looked up to make sure she was still there, I saw her standing on one leg, facing the corner in a perfect tree pose. “Hey!” I said, unable to contain my laugh, “no Yoga in time-out!”. Proud of that girl.
Corners and Generosity
I love that it was the corners of the fields that God commanded Israel to leave un-harvested so that the foreigners and the poor might find food there to feed themselves.
In Acts, Peter had a vision of a tablecloth lowered down by its corners on which were all sorts of unclean foods, like a buffet of abominations. And God said “eat” and Peter said “Hell, no” and God said “what I have deemed clean do not call unclean” and Peter had some bacon (and welcomed Gentiles into the church, one would presume, since that was the point).
Corners and Fighting
I love that in boxing, a “cornerman” or “corner woman” is the trainer who helps the fighter. A cornerperson is not allowed to give advice during the rounds, but during the breaks, “they are permitted to enter the ring and minister to their fighter” (Wikipedia). How beautiful is that?
Corners and Self-Awareness
Sometimes it is the shit that lives in the corners of our psyche that proves to be the place where the best personal work is done. Jung called it Shadow Work. Whatever we call it, the sin, shame and secrets that we try and pretend aren’t there, the things that drive us to addictions and compulsions; the things that keep us up at night, that we never want to admit to ourselves, much less another human being - that’s where the wisdom comes, from facing THAT stuff. I mean, it’s there. If we ignore it, it doesn’t go away, it just lifts weights in the corner. So here, in this space, I want to be brave and shine our flashlights toward the stuff about ourselves and about our society we wish wasn’t there. If we do, we may find that light always scatters darkness and there’s nothing to be afraid of.
Corners and Community
It may feel as though some of us have been relegated to the corners, but here’s the thing: from the corners, I can see the whole room. I love the corners. I always have. It is where I will always choose to sit, because I love outcasts, queers and the girls who talk too loud. I love humor that comes out of lives that have not been easy. I love sober drunks, single dads, sex workers and the guy who lost a leg in the war. These are my people.
So here’s what I hope: that what is posted here is water, God willing, for those planted in the corners.