Circling in

We learn circling in preschool. “Hold hands. Form a circle.” Connect.

The practice is age-old



Children play in the newly established Sosmaqala Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Camp in northern Afghanistan. The camp is comprised of recently returned Afghans following many years as refugees in neighbouring Iran.
30/Aug/2009. Sar-e-Pul, Afghanistan. UN Photo/Eric Kanalstein.


and  Iconic


It’s not an exclusively human practice, but it’s part of what makes us human.

Pioneers circled up wagons for safety as they crossed the plains. King Arthur’s Round Table supposedly kept everyone on an equal footing in Camelot. We circle around a camp fire to sing and laugh and roast marshmallows.

No wonder I’m obsessed with circles.

Even Fairy Circles!


I don’t belong to a quilting or sewing circle, but my threshold choir sings in a circle at rehearsals and then we form small circles around a chair or a bedside when we offer our songs to someone in need.

A staircase spirals up in circles in a dizzying recreation of the ancient form of a nautilus: the ammonite

Planets are circles, though they look like stars to me, if I see them at all. The moon is a circle–and we see it as such, wait for it, ooh at it, at least once a month.

Symbolically and literally, when we circle in, we get closer and closer to the center. To the inevitable moment of contact. Maybe that is contact with other people; maybe it is contact with the truth.

I used to belong to a Full Moon Circle, where we women met on the full moon and passed around a speaking stick to share thoughts about one topic or another. Now I belong to a different circle, similar in many ways: we are all women; we do not respond to what others say beyond the leader’s “thank you for sharing” ; it feels sacred.

The difference is that in this circle we communicate via the phone–there are no visuals, no way to assess how our words are received. It feels daring to express myself into this void of silence, into this universe of just me. Both scary and bizarrely empowering. It’s a challenge to find the faith that my words matter, that they find resonance somewhere with someone. What I’m learning is that, truly, the only one whose resonating acknowledgment matters is me. The ultimate circling in.

It’s the same faith I need to post on this blog. Good practice for me, I agree.

Circles complete us. They are whole, entire, unbroken by definition. As I write these words and struggle to find ways to express my appreciation for them, my fascination deepens. Do you have circles in your life? Do you seek them out? What do they look like?



Photo credits in order of appearance:

:Beaton Institute Archives on / CC BY-NC-ND

United Nations Photo on VisualHunt.comCC BY-NC-ND

bunkosquad / photo on flickr

Schub@ on Visual hunt / CC BY-NC-SA

Dusty J on Visual Hunt / CC BY



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