I was fascinated by an article a couple of weeks ago that talked about why cats like boxes, and why they will sometimes be very content to stay put in a circle done on the floor. It has to do with the presence in a litter of other kitten bodies all pressed together in a confined space, and the release of endorphins related to their safety, contentment, etc.
It reminded me of my freshman year at BYU when I would occasionally find a chalk circle around the statue of Karl G. Maeser outside the science building (it has since been moved), placed there as a joke of sorts to remind everyone of what he had once said about honor. “Place me behind prison walls - walls of stone ever so high, ever so thick, reaching ever so far into the ground - there is a possibility that in some way or other I may escape; but stand me on the floor and draw a chalk line around me and have me give my word of honor never to cross it. Can I get out of the circle? No, never! I’d die first.” I am told that when the statue was moved there wasn’t a chalk circle around it, so he didn’t have to break his word.
Boundaries are interesting. They are very useful for defining where one thing ends and another begins, like countries, acceptable behavior, oil and water, etc. etc. We find them comforting sometimes, like the kitty, even though they are mostly imaginary. They give us a feeling of security and contentment. But they can also be confining, as when we define ourselves as less than we really are, or when we put people on the other side of a boundary and define them as “other”.
Those who are willing to cross a boundary into another country or culture learn many new things which can be stimulating, interesting, and enriching to our own sense of identity and purpose. But in that crossing we also run the risk of being changed in unpredictable ways. We had an interesting discussion last night with other Canadian expats who decided to stay in the U.S., eventually. What was once home became instead a place of wonderful memories, and what was once different became home.
It would be healthy for all who are living comfortably at home to spend time in a third world country. Yes, you run the risk of having to deal with those in poverty, or without education, or with a different worldview. But the potential blessings of gratitude, service, greater understanding, and love of others is well worth the risk. And if you are possibly thinking about serving a mission, prepare now. If possible, pray about it and then send in your application. There’s a big world out there, and kitty needs to get outside the box.