I live my life in widening circles…
I circle around God, around the primordial tower.
I’ve been circling for thousands of years
and I still don’t know: am I a falcon,
a storm, or a great song?
Rainer Maria Rilke, translated by Joanna Macy
This month we are considering what it would mean to live our lives in widening circles. I know that the pandemic has changed my circles of engagement. My in-person circles have narrowed a bit while my online circles have widened rather dramatically. I love the new friends I’ve made online. And, I also look forward to widening my circle locally in the coming year. I’m eager to reconnect with local groups and activities that have been mostly virtual or inactive. I’m also recognizing my urge to venture out and explore some new possibilities.
What needs a little widening in your life? Your ability to stay open, to be vulnerable? Your circle of friends? Your engagement with anti-racism? Your acceptance of yourself and others? Maybe you need to become reacquainted with your own cultural or religious background. Maybe you need to join a new circle – an activity, committee, project or group. Or maybe you need to leave a circle you’ve been part of for a long time that is holding you back from a truer flourishing.
I hope you’ll take a little time this month to consider how you might expand your circle in ways that will provide you encouragement, support and joy.
Yours in faith and love,
I have always found a need to create. I remember wanting my creations to be perfect. For a while I wanted to work on something until it was “done.” A circle was not a circle until it was complete. But what happens if we try to widen that circle? What happens when we leave a project incomplete?
In our month exploring the ways in which our times call us to “widen the circle” I’m going to return to a creative practice that helps me nurture the core of the thing, cultivate curiosity and feel a sense of belonging to things I’ve known forever and things I’m getting to know for the first time.
Many years ago now I was introduced to the concept of process painting. The point of this kind of painting is not to strive to make your most technically beautiful art but to lean into the process of creation and see what emerges.
Dance then move to start painting. After a while stop and take a look at your work. Thank your work for what it is. Go back to dancing some more. Create a new painting overtop of the first painting. Rinse and Repeat. Maybe what emerges is something completely different. Maybe there is a morsel that stays the same. Do this again and again and through the layers meaning emerges.
It can bring forth a lot of different emotions to paint over a work that feels whole. What I’ve found though is that the pieces that are important re-emerge. Sometimes they re-emerge in different spots of the painting. Sometimes they deepen in the same spot I began them many layers ago. The new layers, and the differences they bring beckon a deeper clarity to the whole.
In this month of widening our circles, may we explore, may we embrace, may we move.
Or as our UUBerks mission and vision statements assert may we seek, nurture, and serve.
Yours in Faith and Learning,
Ebee Bromley, DRE
P.S. Our soulful home packet has an art project that you can do at home. See page 13.
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by nadine j. smet-weiss
it may seem
we have gotten
until we share
of our journey
realizing how far
we have come
and thus filled
we begin again