by Betty Karr, Justine Toms, Onnolee Stevens, Linda Merryman
Betty Karr - “Simple and easy” implies a way of being in the world that brings about a feeling of harmony, balance and ease. The deepest sense of reality at the highest expansion is seen as perfect love. At that level we have no resistance to vibrations or interactions of others. It is in that state that one perceives life as “simple and easy”, and the circle as One Mind.
We all need certain practices to continue to grow in mind, heart and spirit. If we are participating in a circle that is considered a sacred place with equal and shared leadership, we can feel love expressed as caring, kindness, patience, courage, forgiveness and best of all, a sense of expansion into a unified field. There can be an awareness of being one with all life.
Having the support of circle can be multidimensional insight, arising from the heart-to-heart link which cuts through surface distinctions to capture the truth. The combined wisdom and compassion of the circle can be a catalyst for the individual to feel nourished, whole, safe and unconditionally loved. The person who emerges from the circle experience with an expanded heart, creates a tremendously hopeful outlook for humanity and our planet. As we act from love, wisdom and non-judgment, we benefit in many important ways and our life’s journey will appear to be simple, easy and effortless.
Justine Toms - Recently I attended a circle of conveners of the Millionth Circle in Ashland, Oregon. As is our custom, we began by calling in spirit followed with a round of check-ins. One of the themes that came up again and again was, "I want whatever it is that I do to be simple and easy."
I came to that circle feeling rather smashed by a tidal wave of both good and bad news. My head was full of many wide-ranging issues about which I care deeply—whales beaching themselves because of sonar testing, clean campaign financing, legislation to help to end the war in Iraq, and even finding a way to help raise funds for a skateboard park that would benefit our local teenagers. The words "simple and easy" did not seem to surround those issues spinning in my head. Even now as I think of these concerns it feels like hard and complex work. I'm tempted to say, "I'm just one person. What can I do?"
As I think back to the "simple and easy" theme of our circle, I begin to breathe easier knowing I am not alone in my quest to keep myself fresh and healthy while continuing to participate in the public dialogue and action. What keeps it simple and easy for me is knowing I am one member of a big circle of brilliant women who keep themselves informed and who care about what kind of future we will leave for our children and grandchildren.
I'm blessed to be part of several circles. Some meet face-to-face on a regular basis and others meet "virtually," on-line in private email circles. A few meet both ways. Some are made up of women only, and some include both men and women. What I love about all these circles is the balance: Each member is committed to contributing in a meaningful way to support the life on our planet. And each member knows the only way to keep pressing on is to keep her life in balance. So we spend part of our time educating ourselves and part of our time in celebration of the wondrous lives we are living. We remind each other to nurture ourselves, to laugh at ourselves, and to listen deeply to one another. If there is any semblance of sanity in my life at all, it is due in large part to my circles, my friends of the heart.
I wish you the blessing of a circle of hearts to join with you in the spirit of education, action, and celebration.
Onnolee Stevens - To be honest – my life seems almost 180 degrees turned around from that.
What I mean is: I have two new hospice patients (what ever happened to the one per volunteer); I am having a supper party for my "lay chaplain" group (what I mean is: why would I ever think I could be or want to be a "lay chaplain"); I am getting a new puppy (what I mean is: "Are you crazy? I feel like a 49 year old woman who decides to have her first child out of wedlock just because she's still fertile and thinks a baby would be nice); I'm going to Japan to sing with my Peace Choir for Hiroshima day (what I mean is: what loving parent would abandon her new child three months after birth?); And what about my glorious garden and my unfinished baskets (what I mean is—I'm not even going there!); Or going to court with my Code Pink buddies who were jailed for protesting forest cutting which will take a whole day or getting all the volunteers for our Nature Center's Garden tour. And all of these held in Circle!
I'm afraid to even continue; what I mean is—-I am so grateful to have these opportunities in my life that I almost can't breathe.
Yet – maybe simple and easy means living life with "passion" and "joy" and " bubbling up delight". And there are tears there for the millions who do not have the health, safety, or basic resouces to effect this enjoyment. What I mean is: thank you Millionth Circle for the opportunity to come to this knowing.
Linda Merryman - Life is too full and there are too many people to really hear what they all want to say to me or that I want to say to them. Sitting in circle makes it simple and easy. What do I mean by that? I mean there is only so much time and women have a tendency to talk and talk. I find I want to hear what they have to say, but I need to hear it in a way that is concise and comes from a place of deep dialogue. I also want to be heard in that way of deep listening. So to meet with my circle of seven once a month and have five hours including lunch to really be with each other is a simple and easy way to know and grow together. If we use the circle guidelines, which we do, it is always a rich experience.
What do I mean by that? I mean last week we had Grandmothers as our topic. One woman, who became a grandmother just last month, led the day. We begin by smuding and five minutes of drums and rattles to get us tuned in. What do I mean by that? I mean the ritual of smudging done lovingly to clean the energy one person smudging the next starts the circle. The delicious fragrance of sweet grass and sage and a fabulous wood from Peru were all used as we laughingly agreed that the Grandmothers got it all. The light drumming and rattles just harmonizes our energies and let’s us settle into a rhythm together. Next we each lit a candle and called in some aspect of Grandmothers. There was Grandmother love and Grandmother sadness of not having Grandmothers and Grandmother boundries and Grandmother appreciation.
We started with a round of talking about our own Grandmothers and we shared photos. The Morman family member had genealogy back to the mid 1600’s with names of 9 generations of Grandmothers. Another had photos of her Grandmother’s Victorian house in Alabama where all the cousins came to play dress up and hide and seek. Another never knew her Grandmothers and had only a photo and one story from her mother about having her hair brushed in front of the mirror. These stories added a level of richness to who we are and why we are who we are.
What do I man by this? I mean I could see how having the relationships with these elder women had shaped our lives in how we mothered and Grandmothered. One woman’s grandmother would break into song and the song would describe the event. This woman finds that she is doing this now…a song just comes that is about what is happening. Her remembering this in circle made her realize where it came from and that her relationship with this Grandmother deserved some remembering. Our Grandmothers’ names…. Chickie and Kiddo and Booboo and Ohma were added to the mix.
Then we moved to a round of how our Mother’s were with our children and ended with ourselves as Grandmothers. There were some tears in the last round about difficult relationships with our children and healings and boundries that came as a result of them having children. So what was simple and easy about this circle? Deep emotions, touching memories, names and lineages, the hardest of hardships, all were shared and heard and held. We each felt seen. We got council if we wanted it. The circle held the space for 7 women to be together …talking about complicated things simply and with ease.