Tag Archives: children

On Facilitating Circles

2018-05-27 09.23.43

Joran Oppelt facilitating an Integral Church circle in Siofok, Hungary.

Recently, at Integral Church, we had what I felt was our worst Circle ever. But when I voiced my frustration about it, my wife surprisingly said she thought it was the best Circle she’d ever been to.

What happened during the Circle that could have been so polarizing?

In my mind, many things had gone “wrong“ over the course of the morning. It was our outdoor circle so I had to get there early and set up the blankets, chairs and altar. I had forgotten to bring the cash box to pay for our childcare. It started raining halfway through (the first time in 6 years) and we were forced to pack up and move to a nearby pavilion. The children came scampering back early from the playground (due to concerns about lightning) and joined us. We reconvened under the pavilion at one of the picnic tables but were now looking more like a rectangle than a circle. I had intended to sing one song but was moved at the last minute (due to the small group) to sing another. I felt like that morning’s selected reading (a work of science fiction) fell a bit flat with some of the participants and those who I’d hoped would be there to participate in the discussion couldn’t make it. We passed the offering bowl and got the least amount of money we’ve ever collected. Because I had asked for a volunteer, the closing meditation ended up being led by my six-year-old (as I whispered prompts in his year).

Now, none of these things on their own are particularly negative experiences, but in the aggregate I felt like I had lost control of the circle. And, therein lay my dilemma. The circles aren’t something that are controlled. They are facilitated. And the next day I had to do some deep inquiry into why I felt so exhausted after facilitating a circle that felt so bad to me and so good to my best friend. Continue reading

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A Prayer For the Children

Children are the roots that we put down in the world. They keep us grounded. We keep them fed.

Children are bulbs that uproot themselves, hoisting their heaviest part to the sky and that eventually learn to walk on their feeble stalks and leaves. Until they put down bulbs of their own.

We are blessed to be surrounded by friends and family. And we are fortunate to be able to rely on them every day. A village of conscious and compassionate parents. Mothers that work (sometimes more than one job) to help support their family, that fight to continue their own education and self-improvement, and that always remain loving mothers to their children. Fathers who are present in every sense of the word, who know the importance of trust and honesty, who know when to be firm and flexible — who know right from wrong, but that haven’t forgotten how to have fun.

Let us take a moment to remember the children who could not be with us today. The ones who did not survive the journey to this world. The ones that we ache to hold, but cannot. The ones that we long to teach, yet have ended up teaching us the virtues of patience and grief from their passing. We keep their spirits with us when our children are at play. We honor them by remembering to love each child unconditionally.

Let us also remember our ancestors. The ones who have imparted this Earth to us. The ones who have taught us the ways of the good, the true, and the beautiful. So that we may, in turn, pass on their knowledge to our own children, and so on, forever. We honor them every day by remembering where we came from.

Today, we take a vow to surround our children with faith, love and support. We will allow them to blossom and unfold into the best person they can be. We trust them to make the right decisions when it matters most. We will be honest with them, never hiding or obscuring our intentions. And we, as a village, will pick them back up when they fall. We will right them on their course if they stray too far from the lighted path. We will lead and live by example, and we will love them unconditionally.

Amen.