Silence, Sharing Circles, and Charlottesville (Race Relations US-Midwest Newsletter)

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Last month my youngest sister came to visit. It was fun to have her around. I’m not sure if it’s a younger child thing, but she has the capacity to make you laugh about the most boring thing you can imagine. A little before she was going to get back to Chile, we drove up north to visit a pow-wow, which is something she never experienced before but always wanted to. Later we continued driving on M-22 and we stopped at Glen Haven, near Sleeping Bear Bay, MI. It’s a historic village that was established in 1857. We walked to the beach and although the day was hot and beautiful, at that moment we were the only ones on the beach. It was silent. Then, I heard the water, couple of seagulls, and the steps of my sister walking on the stones. I needed to pay attention in order to hear those sounds. I needed the silence in order to hear.

I wondered if the amount of noise we have in our lives makes it impossible to hear. I thought of Psalm 37 where we are told to be quiet, to be still…not to fret. I thought about the “noises” in my life that are preventing me to hear, to receive, and behave correctly.

I had the joy of facilitating our Cultural Intelligence workshop at a church. The participants were excited with the learning and wanted to make changes. They realized that first there are areas that need some work. They invited me because they wanted to talk about them. So I decided to facilitate a sharing circle. In a sharing circle we have the opportunity to share with others what’s on our hearts. But what the circle really helps us to do is to listen. It is hard for us to listen. We must be quiet if we want listen to the other. If we would be willing to practice a sharing circle with our families, with our friends, with our co-workers, with our small group, with our congregation, we would have the blessing of listening, laughing, crying, and feeling what the other is feeling. Especially at times like these, listening is so important.

Sharing circles have been part of Indigenous peoples’ cultures for many years. It’s a special occasion where you can respectfully listen and where life, feelings and experiences are shared in a safe environment.

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