In March I had the good fortune of having an overnight retreat session with Kay Pranis. Kay wrote the book on Restorative Justice Circles. If you haven’t read Peacemaking Circles, I highly recommend it.
I have known Kay for years, she and I thought maybe as far back as 1997, when I still worked in Rochester, Minnesota. Kay helped SCVRJP develop our mission statement, she provided Circle training to staff that I supervised. I attended a training in 2002 when her book was just published. At conferences and trainings we have connected. In March, we stayed at a State Park cabin, a cozy place free of distractions. I felt so safe, so honored and so satisfied with deep conversations about Circle, the history of Circles in the US. I related cases, Kay provided insights, offerings and support. We drifted off to sleep after sharing how valuable the process is to each of us. She thinks she might become sick if she doesn’t do it.
I was back at the state park a few days ago. Instead of snowshoes, I was on my mountain bike. As I was riding along the path that Kay and I walked just two months ago, it occurred to me that I never blogged on my lessons with her. She gave me full permission, I thought of several amazing posts to write. Thinking them is never the problem, typing them is the challenge.
On my bike that day, I was beyond my physical limits. Something I like to, it’s odd, I like to push myself. I was panting, my legs were burning, I was seriously questioning my sanity. Sometimes I couldn’t think, all I could do was focus on continuing to pedal.
To get up hills, I was having to stand up and lean forward. As I pedaled and pushed with determination this became a response. It really worked, and in one movement I caught myself. It didn’t make any sense! I had stood up on the pedals and leaned so far forward, my heart was above the front tire. I had a feeling for a split second I was going to wipe out. I realized this made it easy to get up the hill. It could only be a second or I would have toppled forward. It hit me that my mountain bike ride was resembling restorative justice.
To do restorative justice you must lead with your heart. You must put yourself forward in a risky way. An offender must lay all cards on the table, admit all harms, acknowledge the full extent of hurts. A victim must open and push themselves to a place of deep awareness, to go towards what healing needs they have.
Maybe it was the energy of the area, because Kay and I had walked and talked there. Maybe it was my odd passion for restorative justice, it could also have been the lack of oxygen, the lazy winter and out of shape 40 something on her bike. Maybe all of the above, but the lesson was real and I believe it: Lead with your heart to get restorative justice.
Listen in to this amazing story: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0112b61/Womans_Hour_10_05_2011/