Every Friday morning we met, the seven of us. We were the circle. Our power was in our vulnerability with each other. We meditated, we read, we were present in dialogue. We were the circle. Illness took one of us away. Then there were six.
Every Friday morning we met, the six of us. We were the circle. The questions were asked by the others, “What do you talk about? How is it that you can get away for a whole hour and just talk about nothing?” Always our response, “We meet every Friday, come join our circle.” They did. They felt uncomfortable, irritated, bewildered, they bristled at the vulnerability that was required to honour each in the circle, to give power to each in the circle. They let us continue offering paternalistic platitudes of what tremendous work we were doing. They sanctioned the dialogue circle as a professional development strategy to humanize the workplace. Hoping against all hope that the small room would contain the small circle. Retirement took one of us away. Then there were five of us.
Every Friday we met, the five of us. We were the circle. The questions were asked again, and again we invited them. This time though they could no longer stomach the incongruence of power within the circle, talk could not produce results. Take away the small room, take away the small circle.
Every Friday we do not meet, the five of us. We are the circle. We are in dialogue everyday where there is conflict. We are in dialogue everyday where there is pain. We are in dialogue everyday where there is joy. “Intention, listening, inquiry, advocacy, silence” these were the lights we lit the small room with; these are the lights we light the institution with. We are now five times five, times five, times five, times five, times five.
Everyday we meet, the multitude of us. We are the circle.
(Vincenza was a participant in the Popular Education for Social Change class this past season and she shared this piece in class. I was very moved by it and saw in it something poignant and important for popular educators to keep in mind. Vincenza was kind enough to let me publish this piece here - thanks - c)