Berkana Blog

Legacy of Our Healing Circle

by Bob Stilger on June 27, 2015

It all started more than 15 years ago. I’d just left the nonprofit community development corporation I co-founded in 1974. I’d met Meg (Wheatley) through some of the Y2K work my colleague Robert Theobald and I were doing. She invited me to her home in Sundance for a weekend of exploring patterns in our lives and work. It was like a meeting of old souls and we formed an intention to work together.

The next week, back in Spokane, I started to receive version after version of a draft from Meg called Leaders for Life. They kept coming. Finally I decided I had better read this. And I did. Chills went through my body as I read this simple idea: the best way for people to get in touch with the leadership they have to offer in the world is to be in sacred circles of conversation with others who are exploring the same questions.

Within a few weeks myself and my new nonprofit – NewStories – joined with Meg and Christina Baldwin from PeerSpirit, to launch this initiative. We discovered that “Leaders for Life” was already trademarked by someone else and the initiative became know as From the Four Directions.

But I want to go back to my original chills when I read Meg’s draft. It resonated deeply with my own experience. Two and a half years before, when my friend Robert had moved to Spokane after his diagnosis with esophageal cancer, I started learning as quickly as I could about cancer and about healing and how to support him. One of the things that came up in the literature of the time was something called “healing circles.”

I figured we needed one for Robert. I followed my intuition to invite three others to join me in a healing circle with Robert. We met one time and we simply checked in with each other about what was going on in our lives. After the first time we agreed to meet a second time, then a third. It quickly became apparent that it was not a healing circle for Robert, it was a circle for all of us.

For the next, and last, two years of Robert’s life, we met every week for two hours. It became the place where we each stepped further and further into who we were and who we were becoming. No fixing, no counseling, just a sacred space to show up to ourselves and each other and the lives we were leading. At one level, we didn’t have a clue about what we were doing–we made it up as we went along. And we each transformed.

It was the circle that held Robert as he died at the end of 1999, just a month before the climax of Y2K.

Meg, not knowing any of this history, described what we were doing.

Our healing circle has continued to meet. Seventeen years now. A few new people have come in. No one except Robert has left; and we often feel his spirit with us. Once a week for many years. Now once a month if we are able. It has been a space in which we have each been able to be present to our own lives and been able to find our ways forward.

I feel this same energy in the new initiative from Berkana – Gathering Friends. I wish it well!

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