Being a good Circlekeeper is about facilitating your own disappearance.

A few years ago, I was kind of dating someone and I just stopped calling and emailing him.  A few weeks later I got an angry email, suggesting I go to Vegas with my “disappearing” act.

I still do a great disappearing act, now it’s just in Restorative Justice Circle process.stage_performer_92317

A ‘circlekeeper’ is the person, or pair of people facilitating Circle process.  Facilitating a Circle is much different than running a meeting agenda.  Circlekeepers has a role in explaining and guiding the process.  They do not direct it.  The Circlekeeper is not above, or more important than anyone else.  The Circle keeper invites EVERYONE to be keeping the Circle.  Everyone gives a value to the center.  Equality and respect are breathed into the Circle, by the Circlekeeper.

Essentially, you make yourself (as the keeper) disappear into the flow of the Circle.  You are not the focal point.  The person with the talking piece, that person is speaking yet group flow in Circle is something different.

One element of Group flow is the loss of a feeling of self-conscious.  You are no longer paranoid about your own selfish appearances.  The Circle in a space of group flow, is an experience of collective understanding.  Listening takes on a new meaning when we recognize we are there for each other.  The “bearing witness” to anothers story becomes a powerful act.  It happens naturally and emerges by the very design of Circle process.

A recent Circle of teens from different groups came together.  I didn’t realize at the time, I had made judgements.  I suspected that the group had young people with limited abilities at communication, honesty, empathy.  I guess in the back of my mind I had limited expectations for how they would respond to the Circle.

Being impressed with them was a good feeling.  As I was experiencing the students being so in tune with Circle, so open, so honest.  It was then I realized I had some pre-judgements.  It occured to be that “disappearing” in Circle is more than just making your role as leader, equal to everyone.  Disappearing means letting go of the judgements.  Clear the way for people to bring their best selves to Circle.