Drum class notes.

These are ideas I had after the Remo Healthrhythms drumming class, and thoughts on creating circles of people in general. This is a work in progress.

Create a safe space. Comfortable chairs, temperature is moderate. Have choices for chairs so different bodies can fit. Flat cushions, zabuton, rugs. Chairs. Or all the same? Do you want people all at the same eye level, or options?

Ask about any issues, sensitivity. Loud sounds, noise, crowds.

Be considerate of food and water needs. Supply choices.

Remind people that they can take care of their needs – bathroom, water, snack. They don’t have to wait for the group to take a break.

Plan for a variety of breaks so people can stretch, talk, decompress. Have a venue with a lot of different spaces for people to go to, including outside.

Vegas rules – what happens here stays here. Get all to agree. Confidentiality. Don’t talk about what someone says or does – good or bad.

A couple of questions to start – What is your favorite kind of ice cream? How do you fold a towel? These are ways to show that we all have individual ideas, and just because they are different doesn’t make them wrong.

Ground rules – have the group create the list. Discuss. Ask – Does anyone have a problem with anything? Is everyone able to abide by these rules? Don’t proceed until you get an agreement. The discussion during this part alone is part of the experience. How do we work through conflict?

Ask everyone to turn off cell phones so we can be fully present with each other.

Tell people to ask questions – if you are thinking it, there is probably someone else who is thinking it too. You may answer someone else’s question or fix someone else’s issue.

Don’t say “beat” the drum. It reminds people of abuse.

Don’t make it like musical chairs where somebody will be left out. Always have extra instruments so everybody has a choice.

Before the event – send out info to participants about needing to wear comfortable clothes – especially pants. It is difficult to play some drums wearing a skirt. If they are going to use their hands to play a drum (not a mallet) they need to not wear any rings because it can hurt your hand and hurt the drum head.

Assure people that there is no right way to play. Mistakes are where the magic happens.

Ask for what you need.

In the shaker pass icebreaker game, say it is ok to drop the shaker. If you drop it, let it stay. Model this in the first round.

Circle reading list

Interested in the Circle process for conflict resolution? Here’s a list of books that are helpful.

Calling the Circle: The First and Future Culture. Christine Baldwin.

The Circle Way: A Leader in Every Chair. Christine Baldwin & Ann Linnea.

Doing Democracy with Circles: Engaging Communities in Public Planning. Jennifer Ball, Wayne Caldwell & Kay Pranis.

The Millionth Circle: How to Change Ourselves and the World. Jean Shinoda Bolen.

Peacemaking Circles and Urban Youth: Bringing Justice Home. Carolyn Boyes-Watson.

Heart of Hope: A Guide for Using Peacemaking Circles to Develop Emotional Literacy, Promote Healing & Build Healthy Relationships. Carolyn Boyes-Watson & Kay Pranis.

Wisdom Circle: A Guide to Self-Discovery and Community Building in Small Groups. Charles Garfield, Cindy Spring & Sedonia Cahill.

The Little Book of Circle Processes. Kay Pranis.

Peacemaking Circles: From Crime to Community. Kay Pranis, Barry Stuart & Mark Wedge.

Circle in the Square: Building Community and Repairing Harm in School. Nancy Riestenberg.

Building a Home for the Heart: Using Metaphors in Value-Centered Circles. Patricia Thalhuber, B.V.M. & Susan Thompson

The Way of the Council. Jack Zimmerman, in collaboration with Virginia Coyle.

List gotten with permission from Tracy Roberts at http://www.TheCircleCenter.com

Rock with holes

I found this rock at a thrift store in Boone, NC.

rock2

It cost a dollar. I was on the lookout for something to use as a “talking piece” when I do a circle. That is the thing that you hold while you talk, and everybody has to listen. Then you hand it to the next person.

But I also like cool rocks. I have a collection of rocks from all over.

I was wondering what could have caused these holes. Erosion? Animals?

I Googled “rock with holes” and came up with the most likely option so far – pholad boring.

“Pholads are small bivalves that bore holes into shore rocks a few centimeters across, living their lives inside that shelter and sticking their siphuncles out to filter the seawater. If you’re at a rocky shore, or if you suspect that a rock has once been there, then look for these biological holes, a type of organic weathering. Other marine creatures make marks in rocks too, but the real holes generally belong to pholads.” (From the article “11 Types of Holes in Rocks” on the Geology section of About.com)

These pholads are known as “angelwings” because of the shape of their shell.

pholad4

Here are some pictures from that article.

pholad3pholad2pholad1

Then this started a whole line of thinking. The rocks themselves are made of limestone, which is, in itself, derived from other sea creatures’ shells. Many animals with shells lived and died, and their shells degraded and got compressed together and shaped into a rock. So these modern shelled creatures are actually living inside the remains of other shelled creatures, which are many many years distantly dead.

Also, I find it interesting that these creatures have a shelled body, but they feel the need to dig a hole into a rock for even more protection. They never leave this hole. They live their lives here. Reminds me of some people I know. They’ve traded in safety for boring.

But, back to the rock with holes.

This is known as “bioturbation.” It happens any time a living creature disturbs soil. Sea creatures do it, insects do it, animals do it – including humans.

Back to the About.com article – “One of the agents of organic weathering, bioturbation is the disturbance of the soil or sediment by living things. It may include displacing soil by plant roots, digging by burrowing animals (such as ants or rodents), pushing sediment aside (such as in animal tracks), or eating and excreting sediment, as earthworms do. Bioturbation aids the penetration of air and water and loosens sediment to promote winnowing or washing.”

Cool, right? And I just thought it looked like a potato with the “eyes” cut out. I’d seen rocks with these kinds of holes before but never knew how to look it up. I’m so glad that a search term as simple as “rock with holes” was enough to get me on the right track.

Later I was playing with it and found out that the holes can be used in a flute-like manner. Yes, this means I can play my rock. More importantly, it means that I tried to play it.

I’m glad I’ve gotten back to the state of being a child.

Edit 7-4-17:
I have learned that rocks with holes all the way through are sometimes known as “Hag stones”. From the Etsy shop “SeaMadeDesigns” – – “Hag stones, in folk magic systems, these are often believed to ward off the dead, curses, witches, sickness, and nightmares. They are also used as windows or doorways to see ‘otherworlds’, invisible spirits, or how a being ‘really’ looks beyond their physical image. They have always been deemed a rare and treasured stone.” The item description also refers to them as healing stone, Odin stone, adder stone, fairy stone, alter stone

Recovering church member.

Christians in recovery aren’t like recovering alcoholics. We are more like food addicts. We can’t do without food. We just need a healthy relationship with it.

When you are a recovering alcoholic you have to learn to live your life without alcohol. But you can’t live without food. You have to relearn how to eat. The trick is to learn what is a healthy relationship with food and what isn’t. The trick is to set up boundaries.

In the same way as food addicts, people who have been hurt by mainstream church (by the current definition of what “church” means) are renegotiating this relationship. They can do without the top-down leadership, the politics, and the obsession with money that comes with church as it is currently defined.

When we have had an unhealthy relationship with church, we have to renegotiate the deal. We often try to stay away from church. Sometimes we go back but to a different denomination and we find we are welcomed. Sometimes we find that welcome is short lived and we discover the same bad processes and unhealthy ways of thinking that plagued our old churches. Sometimes we start to think that the whole idea of Christianity is wrong, and we stay away from anything associated with the idea.

The only problem is that the thing that drew us to church, and the thing that got us to leave is the same thing. It is Jesus in both cases. Those of us who leave church don’t do it because we don’t love Jesus. We do. We just weren’t finding him in church, or at least any modern definition of it.

As for me, I wasn’t finding him in the activities that the church sponsored. I wasn’t finding him in the book clubs that featured books that had nothing to do with how to be a better Christian. I wasn’t finding him in the margarita karaoke evenings. I wasn’t finding him in the Bunco gatherings that were held in the parish hall. And I certainly wasn’t finding him in a minister who told me to stop talking about how God was and is interacting with my life.

I left church, but I couldn’t leave Jesus. The only problem is in trying to figure out how to have one without the other. Just like with food addiction, I need Jesus in order to live. I just can’t handle all the extras that have been added on top of him.

So much was put on my plate when I’d go to church that Jesus became the side dish instead of the main course. There were so many garnishes and condiments and appetizers and desserts that I couldn’t see him at all. When I left church and left all of that, I missed him, and I got hungry for him all over again.

I think this is true of many people I’m meeting. We love Jesus. We just don’t love how he’s been served to us.

Just like a food addict, we need to strip it all down to the basics and start from scratch. We need to reevaluate our relationship. We need to set up healthy boundaries. We need to figure out what we need and what makes us feel ill.

For me, one of the big things is that the group not have a permanent building. Jesus didn’t build a church with bricks, but with bodies. The church is the people, not the place. The more money that is spent on a church building, the less that is spent on helping people who need it.

Another thing is there needs to be no one minister. We are all ministers, by virtue of our baptism and our acceptance of Jesus into our lives. To have only one person sharing their story, and only one person making the decisions, is to take away the God-given power, voice, and ability that we all have.

So while I really like the gatherings that I’ve been going to, I’m still missing Jesus in them. I think we’ve all gotten so afraid of how we were treated at church that we’ve just dumped everything and been feeling it out. We are reassembling the jigsaw puzzle but without the picture on the box, and we are leaving out all the bits that we are afraid of.

While I like that the meetings are in friend’s homes and we all get to share our stories openly and honestly, I feel that we are missing something really important. We forget to invite Jesus to our circle. We don’t talk about him. We don’t have communion. Well, not openly. Tea and cookies can count, but it has to be intentional for it to count.

I think we feel that because we don’t talk about Jesus, because we don’t invite him to our circle, that we aren’t going to get hurt like we did the last time we were in a place that mentioned Jesus. And we might. We might get hurt because whenever we gather with other people, we gather with other people’s problems. I also think that we still need to try. Just like renegotiating a relationship with food, I think we need to renegotiate a relationship with Jesus. I think we need to invite him in, to help heal that brokenness and that hurt. I think if we don’t, then we will start to feel more and more empty.

Church refugee. On circle, and communion.

I’ve met so many refugees from church recently. We are starting to find each other. We are all people who went to church for many years because we love Jesus. We left church because we weren’t finding him there.

So many of us feel hurt by church. We were made fun of or silenced. We were mocked for our gifts and talents. It seems that all we were wanted for was our money. We were expected to sit down and shut up and listen to the minister and pay our tithes and then go home and be equally passive. If we read the Bible for ourselves and asked questions we were discouraged. We knew in our hearts that this wasn’t right. We knew that God wanted more of us.

We tried to make it work in church. We volunteered for more activities. We were on committees. We were in several different groups. We were active. We were the first at the church and the last to leave on Sunday morning.

But it wasn’t enough. It wasn’t enough for us, and it wasn’t enough for God. We were trying to make it work.

So we left. Some of us left the churches we’d put a lot of time and money into. Some of us left the churches that we were raised in, that our families still go to.

Several of us have found each other in a circle gathering. We share time together, and we are honest and open. Each person gets to talk, and every person listens. This is so different from church as we know it.

But for me, there is one thing missing. We don’t invite Jesus into it.

This isn’t an interfaith gathering. We are refugees from church, remember? We are people who left church because we couldn’t find Jesus there. While many of us think that Buddha and Rumi are enlightened beings and we like to share their quotes, we are still afraid in these gatherings to invite Jesus into it.

Why is this? Have we thrown out the baby with the bathwater? Are we afraid to bring Jesus into our circle because we associate Jesus with the people we left? If people are hateful, they don’t have Jesus. If there is love, then Jesus is there. If there was love at our last church, we would have stayed.

We left because we felt undervalued, underappreciated. We left because we were silenced. We left because we knew that the car that is church was going off the road and to stay in it would have meant we were going to go off the cliff with it. We left because we’d rather walk towards what is right than go quickly towards what isn’t.

So while we are reevaluating what church is, what community is, we aren’t taking the Guide along with us. We aren’t inviting Jesus into our circle, into our hearts.

I’m considering hosting my own circle, and I want to have communion. From all I’ve read of the words of Jesus and from my personal prayer time I’ve realized that you don’t have to be ordained to do this. That is yet another method of controlling people. Jesus didn’t create the institution of priests. Jesus did away with all of that and gave the power to everybody, with no distinctions. Jesus made us all equal.

I’m learning more and more about Judaism, and it is amazing how diluted the Christian communion service is. It is simply a Sabbath meal at the dinner table. It has been boiled down to the bread and the wine. There are two candlesticks as well. The chalice and the paten are the Kiddush cup and the saucer. It is like Christians are playing house. The congregation doesn’t know about the Jewish roots of this ritual.

I’m thinking about making it as inclusive as possible – having kosher grape juice and gluten-free matzo. While I’d love to serve actual wine, it isn’t fair to exclude those people who are in recovery. While I’d love to serve challah, the bread that is served at the Sabbath meal, it isn’t fair to those who are gluten intolerant. And while some churches will have a separate line for those people who are gluten intolerant, and tell those in recovery to let the cup pass them by – that isn’t fair. We all need to share the same bread and wine. When you exclude someone, you are saying they aren’t the same. When someone has to exclude themselves for health reasons, they are making themselves stick out. If the elements of the meal are safe for everybody, then everybody is welcome and everybody is equal.

And that is really important.