I walked among their number as an expatriate,
A son once beloved but since rejected,
Or as one rejecting distant political decisions
Meted out in dispassionate pompousness.
Sitting in on their sacred assemblies,
I felt my love for them once again,
And appreciation for spiritual formation
That pointed me beyond their strictures.
Briefly, I came as near to them as I dared,
As one approaches an unpredictable dog;
Once bitten by a particular species
One steels oneself against the pathology.
Surreally close and yet so very distant,
I stood a hair’s breadth outside their circles,
Enjoying conversation with trusted friends,
Enduring puzzled glances of suspecting elders.
I affirmed my calling and my freedom,
Not as a pawn of a denomination,
But as one called to invest in a community,
Welcoming all expatriates to a new home.