“I go out to be a new articulation. I go on behalf of those who are hiding. May I have an abundance of ease, curiosity, and trust.” This is what I said aloud when I stepped into the circle up in the High Hope hills before entering into my solo time during the Dream Quest last May. These three things were a distillation of months of reflection, writing, prayers, coaching. After I spoke, I stepped out of the circle, retrieved my backpack and headed out on the path to my solo site for the next two days. I felt both anxious and supported. I was leaving to arrive somewhere that I didn’t know of yet.
The Medicine of a Circle Way
I went to Atlanta last week to accompany Leah Mann and Ela Lamblin for Atlanta World AIDS Day events designed to raise awareness of the spike in HIV diagnoses in Atlanta and to shed light on the cultural-societal silence – stigma perpetuating this increase among youth ages 13-24. I arrived Monday evening at the Moving in the Spirit dance studio just in time for a closing “check out,” circle time. Kids who had been rehearsing for the upcoming performance at Morehouse were naming their feelings and how they were going to take care of themselves that evening when they returned home. These kids were not hiding. They obviously were connected to this supportive community, and they had the dance medicine with them. Self possessed, honest, they were. I was invited into the circle; no hanging on the edges would work.
Thursday evening, Leah and I co-led an InterPlay workshop, “Dissolving Stigma, Marking Hope.” Not an ambitious idea at all, hey? The inquiry space we created that evening invited folk to arrive in their bodies as we began with an extended time of movement and arrival ritual. To stir the inquiry pot, we knew there was a link between stigma and judgment, so we invited people to just name aloud a few…of their judgments. No shortage on content there. We continued by investigating in a circle/walk-about, with the question, “Where does SHAME live?” The fresh, raw, articulation of experience was humbling to hear. After some time of digesting and noticing, we did a walk, stop run and three sentence stories to wonder aloud about “Where HOPE lived.” We bowed to the work unfolding in one another, to the spirit of care each person brought for themselves and for those vulnerable ones in their immediate circles of influence.
Going out to go in, the path of questing, can happen on ranches and islands, AND it can happen in our regular day-to-day lives. The journey of re-connecting with truth, re-connecting with one’s original medicine, and learning what it is abide by soul, is available to anyone. The soul, that part of us that just knows stuff, naturally arcs toward the healing of separations and guiding us back into balance with creation.
Harriet Platts, Chaplain@Large