Somewhere between reading the email about the Circle Keepers Summit and arriving at Timber Bay Lodge in Minnesota, I imagined as many as 60 circle keepers would be attending. Not unlike a fish story, I think I inflated reality each time I talked about it to match my excitement and anticipation. I am still not sure where the number of 60 came from.
The real story is that there were 13 of us and it was perfect. I had the honor of being in community with restorative justice practitioners who hold as many as 2-3 circles a day as part of their job. I learned that they hold circles for children in preschool all the way up to high school, families dealing with a loved one in recovery, people in prison or experiencing reentry from prison - just to name a few. They hold these circles as their job working for city, county and state agencies. I have come to view Minnesota as the circle heartland of America - they have been doing this work for over 20 years and (sorry for repeating myself) they do it as their profession.
During our time together, we sat in circle, we ate delicious food, we shared experiences that challenged our sense of right and wrong, we jumped in the lake fully clothed, we cried, and we laughed so hard our stomachs hurt.
Thanks to the incredible efforts of the women who organized the summit and the people who attended, I am enriched, enlightened, challenged, and empowered. My path is now clearer.
One comment made during our closing circle told their story of circle as an agent for change, "We knew that Minnesota had arrived when the system stopped telling us how to be in relationship with each other".