Crossing Over Territory


These days, the word “territories” makes me mad. Furious, even.

The word makes me think of boundaries and taking, protectionism and entitlement. I see empire and colonialism and racism. Territories are used as a reason to impose parameters and hierarchy on difference, to create hard, deep lines between groups of people, to take children from their parents. These territories we have made are rooted in a fear of the Other and in the lie of scarcity.

“We believe we are better than you so this is now ours” or “We need to keep you out because we only have so much to go around.” All these concepts have soul shattering, life changing, real consequences for far too many of us.

I felt stuck in this loop of anger when I felt the Spirit asking me if I could find the good in territories.

Territories seem to be linked to our differences. But God created us differently on purpose. Humanity is not one big blob of sameness but billions of carefully crafted, unique individuals. We seem to twist and pollute these differences to create divisions, but could there be another way to link territories and difference?

In her book Bandersnatch, Erika Morrison writes about crossing over words, ideas and values. She writes about “the journey from being defined by and rooted in the world to being defined by and rooted in Jesus.” This idea of crossing over gave me a place to start dreaming, to unleash my prophetic imagination of what territories rooted in the upside-down Kingdom of God could be like.

Since we are all beautifully, gloriously different, territories defined by Jesus amplify and praise the entire prism of humanity. I can imagine spaces where we are invited and welcomed into different territories in celebration and pride of each area’s unique expression of God. I dream of places where we find our kindred spirits, where we commune with the Divine. These upside-down territories can be safe, fertile places where our individual and corporal differences multiply and refract as we create an ever-expanding, infinite expression of God.

I experienced a flash of this crossed-over territory last month when I attended the Scottish Highland games held in a nearby park. At one point during the day, four Highland dancers and four Bhangra dancers stepped out on the track. Punjab and Scottish folk music blended together as the dancers wove in and out with each other. The dance honored the similarities between the two dance styles, as well as the differences. As I sat in the audience with tears running down my face, I felt the shift of energy as it bound us all together, audience and performer, Scottish and Punjabi. We witnessed a crossed-over territory. And it was good.

These days, I am still angry but I am also finding good in the concept of territories. I am noticing when the underlying belief of scarcity and protectionism corrupts my thoughts and behaviours. I am trying to hold my possessions loosely and practice gratitude for the incredible abundance I have.

I am practicing deep listening and actively look for God in the people around me. I am trying to figure out who exactly the Creator made me to be in this moment. I am defining and developing my individual sacred expressions. I am keeping my heart open for kindred spirits.

I am a long way off from the true beauty of what territories rooted in Jesus can be, but I am doing my work to bring pieces of the upside down to the here and now.