When circle members were asked about their spiritual experiences in the circle this is how several responded:
Theme 1) Several used images to describe these experiences…..
- They are fundamentally experiences of being or experiencing oneness amid the diversity, amid the difference, amid the distinctions—we are one…. I think it has been profound…I think it’s those moments when we discover that we are part of the same whole…and that the holiness of that reality is there and given for a moment.
- It reminds me of a prayer that I am using right now (in another context)…it talks about discovering that we are not individual strings but currents of one flow.
- The image that I was thinking about was just imagining where I’m at and ancestors just being present… the last time that we met in our circle that happened really strongly for me.
- People sown together, almost like wind blew us together but like you still could see the image of each one of us but just twisted together by the sowing.
- The word scared comes to mind…to be able to just fully listen and be, it’s very intimate to be able to be in that same space with the rest of the group and to just listen to the person and know that you’re connecting, it just blows me away. I’m in awe and it is very humbling, I feel there’s something very scared about that.
- I see a real big glass bowl with colors.
- It’s funny in my search for wholeness, that roundness of the glass bowl is part of what it means to be whole for me.
- My image is the prism. I see the group as a prism. I’m coming in as a certain light but as it goes through the prism and it explodes my light to become better, becomes one with the other light.
Theme 2) several expressed this in terms of getting to another place or level in their life, letting go or transforming, or an ideal church-like experience.
- I think of inclusion and yet transcendence. I don’t want to leave behind who I was…not because it was the best, but because it was and is me. I am coming to peace that yes I am evolving, and yes I’m going to let it happen, and yes as comfortable as I was I am going to move on.
- I personally think that the churches have missed the boat; this is what Jesus meant by church people coming together and helping each other in life by unburdening themselves. I’m Catholic and I love my lord, and I love my Eucharist, but there in Rome they have missed the point; they live in golden castles and then the poor are on the streets. That’s not want Jesus wanted, he didn’t have a hat to lay his head on, so for me, this is church.
- It’s just affirmation and I’m not the only one feeling these kinds of things so to me its like I’m becoming better in particular as a leader, and a healthier leader and those things are because of you guys.
- I just think that the reflection circles are totally different than anything I have experienced. I used to work in the business world, companies always thinks they do human resources well… but now that I have experienced this … it’s comical to me what corporations will pay to have some come in and talk to your sales people …it’s so standardized. What they need are circles. Some people may do well with ordinary training, but to really get to the core of what is vital, you need something like what the circle brings.
Theme 3) several expressed this in terms of experiences of deep support, community with emphasis on experiences of peace and love.
- I think we have had many times when we have all just kind of felt overwhelmed, like oh my god what just happened? A moment of profound communion where everybody’s heart was just right in the same place and in solidarity with one who was broken. Or where the sense of communion around a shared place of weakness just gave us collectively a sense that we were not alone anymore, and that it is bigger than just those of us around the table, that it was about God being present for us in a way to confirm that solidarity…for me those are some of the kinds of experiences that have happened regularly.
- I just have felt this peace that I haven’t experienced a lot of other places…it very rare and it seems like most times when we come together as a group I feel God’s peace and I think a part of that is experiencing God’s acceptance of me… I have this view of God as like he’s only pleased with me if I’m doing certain things or if I’m living the right way or whatever, but when I’m in this group I just feel like no, I’m accepted as I am and I think that’s a really rare thing.
- I think that love comes into the circles. I mean I can say from my heart that I love you and I think that the circle has a big part in helping you look with different eyes at people.
- I think a word for it is peace; peace that we are a beautiful mess. As people we are a beautiful mess and sometimes we’re scared of being a beautiful mess. We’re scared of not knowing everything. That brings peace to know that we don’t know everything and to know that we can’t know everything. That some things we’re just going to be at peace with. I think that’s part of the reflection process that it has helped me be at peace with some things.
Theme 4) a few shared a state of being outside the circle or applications outside the circle
- When we’re born we don’t have a sense of our separateness…we spend the next 18,25,35,45 years defining that individuality from the whole…there’s that energy that we spend as human beings trying to define our individuality against the whole, and for many of us it is often much later in our lives that we can deconstruct that ego and allow ourselves to experience our communities, the ones that are around us that are different from us but are still one with us. I think part of the struggle to overcome that is that we’ve spent so much time building up this individuality and it takes a lot to deconstruct it. The circles remind us of this original oneness.
- Part of what we experience is the realization that we really do need each other because we don’t have what we need, it wasn’t given to us. What was given to us was the gift of needing one another to complete who we’re supposed to be and that’s what we’re experiencing. So we’re not so much experience the drawing out of something that was always already there, but the gift of learning how to receive what we need from each other… I think things are such that we can’t be whole without each other, we don’t have the answers that lie dormant within us without each other.
- I believe leadership starts in places like this…leadership is not only one person taking a group of the followers to where they want to go, but it’s also the leader growing along with the group, this is when it becomes transformational for all involved.