As in all circles, what once was blurs into what is now. I have written before about the need to have an authentic adult culture of productive conversations and positive problem-solving in a school community. I have learned this weekend the importance of that by holding council among friends.
In an effort to bring back gems for our school to build a stronger and richer restorative culture, Charla, Allison, Erin and I have now traveled twice together to dive deeper into Restorative Approach/ Justice/ Practice currently implemented in California. We have taken council training. We have visited Oakland and San Francisco district representatives; we have spoken with community activists; we have met with RA pioneers. And all that meant so very much.
But the true gold has lied before, between, and after those meetings. The time in which we have woven our heart strings and brain bows together in a circular web of commitment and reflection and healing.
In our circle council of friendship and in our sacred space of light work, we have sat among probing questions and uncomfortable revelations and intensive insights into who we are, who we aren’t, and what gets in our way. We have been courageous in pointing out the fallacies and weaknesses in our selves, but also in each other as individuals and as collective representatives of larger systems. We have sat at the edge of the bay and collaboratively written a poem exploring imprisonment and freedom. We have held circle around wine and bread with inquiries written by us, for us—but ultimately for the larger Purpose which we endeavor to serve.
Our circle was sealed last night by a round of compliments of admiration for each of the others. The last time I sat in a place where joy and gratitude and blessing reigned was far too long ago. My teaching soul needed it. My human soul needed it. Like the parched sojourner I am across the vast desert of education, I felt satisfied and reinvigorated to journey on in our work as peace-makers.
In the end, I come back to the idea of self-care. An empty cup cannot but poor mere air into another cup, no matter the illusive noises staged to hide the lack of provision. I do not want to be an educator who gives from a place of deprivation—but from a place of abundance. To my students. To my colleagues. To my friends. To my family. To the endless circles of intersecting communities infinitely rippling in and out around me.
And to honor and cultivate that place of abundance, I must tend to the Circle that is alone within me.