Circle of Truths

From A Hidden Wholeness by Parker Palmer
“The soul wants truth, not trivia.  So if the space between us is to welcome the soul, it must be a space in which truth can be told. …
“You and I may hold different conceptions of truth, but we must mind the difference.  Whether we know it or not, like it or not, acknowledge it or not, our lives are interconnected in a complex web of causation. …
“My working definition of truth is simple, though practicing it is anything but: ‘Truth is an eternal conversation about things that matter, conducted with passion and discipline.’ Truth cannot possibly be found in the conclusions of the conversation, because the conclusions keep changing.  So if we want to live ‘in the truth’, it is not enough to live in the conclusions of the moment.  We must find a way to live in the continuing conversation, with all its conflicts and complexities, while staying in close touch with our own inner teacher.
“In a circle of trust, we can dwell in the truth by dwelling in the conversation.  In such a circle, our differences are not ignored, but neither are they confronted in combat.  Instead they are laid out clearly and respectfully alongside each other.  In such a circle, we speak and hear diverse truths in ways that keep us from ignoring each other and from getting into verbal shootouts — ways that allow us to grow together toward a larger, emergent truth that reveals how much we hold in common.
“How does that larger truth emerge in a circle of trust and how do we grow toward it?  It happens as together we create a ‘tapestry of truth’, a complex fabric of experience & interpretation woven from the diverse threads of insight that each of us brings to the circle.  Doing so requires a loom of corporate discipline strong enough to hold those threads in creative tension with one another — a loom provided by the principles and practices of a circle of trust.”   pp126-7

I have seen a similar “tapestry of truth” when we sit in circle with a talking piece. There are two rules: the one who has the talking piece gets to talk, and everything said in the circle stays in the circle.  It always amazes me when we can start out talking about something personal, and each has a different story, but as the talking piece goes around we begin to see how our stories overlap, ideas from one provides an opening into another. At the end of a good “circle session” I have an image of a ball of colored threads, it’s huge and floating up there in the space above the open space that is the center of the circle.

For more about keeping a circle, see Christina Baldwin’s book Calling the Circle, and website, also trainings in Circlework with Jalaja Bonheim.

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