Circle keeping from the depths of your humanity.
Thank you Webster dictionary on-line. Humanity: The totality of human beings. Human Beings are mental, physical, emotional and spiritual. I believe that Circle keeping is most effective when the keeper is working towards a balance and wellness. I say working towards – cause we grow and learn every single day.
Circle keeping is the manner and method of guiding the process of a Restorative Justice Circle. Anyone can tell other people what to do. Facilitation techniques separate you from the group. The elements of power are important in Circle keeping. Using the power of love rather than the power of authority. It takes practice in this. What you are doing is using a strength, often initially perceived as weakness. Being vulnerable and creating space for others to do the same is really intentional behavior.
I write about this because of a recent experience. I was able to get feedback from Kay Pranis and Jennifer Ball. Kay, author of Peacemaking Circles and the Little Book of Circle process. Jennifer Ball, co-authored Doing Democracy with Circles (with Kay and Wayne Caldwell). Links take you to Living Justice Press, where these are also available as E-books!
I was excited to meet Jennifer, and knew she would bring gifts to being part of the Circle. I love Kay, she has been a teacher, guide, mentor, inspiration for years. I managed to stay calm about conducting the Circle, by just remembering how I know Circle. By remembering this is about the Circle, Kay will be a wonderful community participant. There really is no control of a Circle or the outcomes. You REALLY do need to trust the process.
It was a good Circle. One young man, after hearing the story, got up and shook the storytellers hand. That was so significant because a change of heart (which I always say leads to a change of behavior) happened right there in front of us. I could go on about what I saw that went well, I will go on about Keeping Circle.
Humanity is the realization we are all the same. Humanity is a gracious space of connectedness, and connectedness means inclusion. I’ve been asked about the words I used that night. The feedback has been that my keeping was smooth and flowed. I’m thankful, relieved and proud of the work that SCVRJP has evolved into doing. I’ve been intentional about keeping our Circles very close to core values and the core elements of the process. I believe that we have created a community of practice – Circles that are invitational, non-judgemental and transformative. The feedback on the keeping was reflective of this collective.
If you connect to the collective, the core values and elements of Circle, your keeping will come from the depths of your humanity. Keeping from that place, produces the magic and mystery that is Circle.