Circle Keeping

Same tree as yesterday, another pod beginning to let her seeds fall.

(Totally off-topic: Joss just said, “Mom, you know why my socks go to church?”
Me: “I don’t know. Why?”
Joss: “Because they’re holey.”)

The Circle Keeper places a canvas bag of small pieces of driftwood on the floor beside the center table. One by one, around the circle, the people come to the table and arrange wood. Everyone is silent, except for occasional chuckles and shuffling.  We are not to speak, not to stop until everyone in the circle passes and accepts what has been set up in the center.

First round. We’re tentative, building on each others’ ideas, adding a piece or two at a time. Suddenly someone dumps the bag on the table, and pieces scatter. What to do now? Are we angry? This is just a game. Still, someone has shifted the balance, upset the order. Some people are looking relieved that the order that was being enforced upon the pieces is now freed.

Second round. People re-build, tear down, rebuild. Set pieces under the table. Put them all in the bag but one. Dump them out again. Put one back in the bag. The floor comes into play. We gather and separate the wood. We build bridges and destroy them. We make patterns and sweep away patterns.

Third round, or maybe fourth by now. A circle of wood forms. Shifts, becomes almost a spiral, then a yin/yang. The table is set aside. We’re entirely on the floor. A smiling face emerges. Laughter. Clapping. Everyone passes around the room.

It’s not the meaning I would have chosen. It’s too orderly, too specifically a sign for me. I think it’s way too orderly for the Chaos and Loki folks on the other side of the circle. It’s not the fluid beauty that some of the other folks wanted. Still, I am left feeling like I had my part to play in the creation of this. And it does represent us as a group–in the process of the exercise, we HAVE become a group. We have made choices together, we have made assumptions about each other and shattered those assumptions or shifted them to something deeper. We have laughed together, grinned at each other, watched each other carefully, thought about our own internal reactions. The final image in the center is a wobbly circle, representing us, and with a quirk of a smile that adds a little mischief, which is who we are, too. This is who we will be for three days together.

Gratitude List:
1. The Circle Keeper. Circle Keepers, formal and informal. Wise women.
2. Holding paradoxes. Leaning into ambiguity.
3. Looking through the others’ eyes. Shifting perspective.
4. This boy, who watches and notices, who sees when another child is being mistreated, who cannot help but speak up. Such a balance in him between the technological and the human. He loves his numbers, but he loves people, too.
5. Omelet for lunch yesterday. I think I’ll reprise that one today.

May we walk in Beauty!



Gratitude List:
1. The way a good dream infects waking life with its lessons and images and stories
2. That great horned owl calling in the bosque.  May you have good healthy eggs and a safe hatching this year, friend!
3. Wonder
4. Good work to do–even when I wake up tired, even when I am not as prepared for the day as I would like, I still like going there and being in that place with those people.
5. Paradox, mystery, contradictions, the open-ended question

May we walk in Beauty!

Toad Redux

A week or so ago I posted a collage-style poem, “The Song of the Toad and the Little Birds.”  Toads seem to be lurking their way into my work of late.  Here’s a sequel, or perhaps a Part II:

The toad squats
behind the poem
of the little birds

Underneath its tongue
is a red jasper
and its name is Patience

It is listening for the sound
of the sound of your name
in the falling rain
in the sound of a car
turning the corner

It is listening for your heartbeat
as you wait to be born

If you look closely enough
you will see the thin golden chain
around its left wrist

If you wait
you will hear a sigh
like the settling
of a leaf
in the grass.


Gratitude List:
1.  Feeling energized by the work of the day
2.  Toads
3.  Dragonstone
4.  Balance and paradox
5.  Layers of meaning
May we walk in beauty.

Toad visiting the Faerie house, Summer 2009