Volunteer statements: “every Circle is my favorite”, “I needed this Circle more than anyone here”

Once and awhile I get tired.  I get tired and lonely and frustrated.  I wonder why I am a workaholic and kick myself for doing this to myself.  I keep repeating a cycle.  Then I am in Circle and people say things that catch me off guard.

Suddenly someone is talking about surviving physical abuse as a child.  As most of us look at the paper plates on the floor, because the speaker is explaining how her teachers, police officers and social workers used these values to get her safe.  She expresses this and only starts to tear up at the end.  No one interrupts, no rescuing comments, no affirming “thanks for sharing”.  Because that is how Circle works.  We tell the truth one person at a time.

Someone else gets tearful, the simple getting acquainted question brings out grief for a family not together.  The people in this Circle, hold the space.  There is respect, remorse, ownership, wisdom all swirling in the room.  Suddenly working on a Saturday seems like the most important place in the world.  I can’t imagine being anywhere else.

As we start to finish our Circle, we take turns picking a value/paperplate out of the Circle.  One by one, these are exchanged between the Circle members.  The college volunteer gives the community volunteer a plate that says “generous”, because the community member was generous in story and wisdom.  College student shares how much she learned from the stories and appreciated knowing a life can turn around.  Later I learn the community member has wanted to hear that for 20 years.

A juvenile participant gives me the plate that says ‘Respect’, he tells me I have that for everyone.  I fight back tears as he goes on to explain that I made this happen.  He thanks me, and I clear the lump in my throat.

Before reading the closing, I pass the talking piece one more time asking for a response to “is there anything else you need to say to leave in peace”.  Every single person says ‘thank you’, the equal respect between everyone is so powerful.  It takes a full half hour for everyone to leave.  Conversation continue, volunteers confirm the next event and people leave wishing each other a good day.

The evaluation show that 8 out of 10 people ranked the experience as Excellent, the other 2 offered Good.  I’m no longer tired, lonely or frustrated, I’m energized, as one of the volunteers indicated they felt as well.  There is something good that happens when you restore justice, and the good just feels really good.

Now to take that with me, and get yoga class.