Circles Circles!

Principal Maylanne Maybee writes:

In the last two weeks I have participated in or thought about circles in a number of ways. Top of the list are the circles we encourage you to create in your home communities to participate in the Annual Meeting on the theme of Celebrations and Challenges, on Wednesday, February 29 (see below). Pre-registrations for the AGM are trickling in but we are hoping, waiting for an avalanche! The meeting will feature a presentation on “Attracting Students and Growing our Program”: we need your best ideas about how to do both so we can widen our Learning Circles!

The month began last Wednesday, February 1 with a staff retreat – not a workshop, but a way for the CCS staff team to be together in worship, prayer, and reflection. The idea for this came out of a staff day in November when we named our desire to experience worship that engaged the spirit and senses as well as the mind and voice. We asked Sandra Stewart, a spiritual director and Friend of CCS, to lead us in a day-long retreat at St. Charles Retreat Centre, a beautiful and peaceful riverside facility at the edge of Winnipeg.

Sandra introduced us to a process developed by Parker Palmer, drawing on his Quaker background, for bringing people together into “Circles of Trust”. It’s a simple process of listening and reflecting in small groups, often focusing on a “third thing”, such as a poem, or a piece of art, or music. 


One of our “third things” was to work together as a group, without speaking to each other, to create this mandala (a Sanskrit word from the Buddhist and Hindu tradition meaning “circle”, often an aid to meditation) with coloured sand, beads, shells, and stones.

I left the next day to attend a pre-conference workshop (in Las Vegas, Nevada!) where, by coincidence, this exercise of building “Circles of Trust” was used again, though in a different setting and among different people, as a way of learning how to discover, listen to, and live out of our “hidden wholeness”.

The conference itself was the annual meeting of Living Stones, a partnership of Anglican and Episcopal dioceses in Canada and the US who are committed to mutual sharing and learning through case studies presented by local teams. (There’s much more to say about this at another time.)

It so happens that we met in a Las Vegas hotel called Circus Circus– which brings us back “full circle” to the title of this piece: Circles Circles. May ours continue to widen and grow.