In today’s Lenten journal, Rev. Judith Liro ponders circles—the circle made by prayer beads, the circle we gather in to worship, and the great circle of life.
“Come to the circle, the circle of Life,
Come to the circle of Life.
Come to the circle, the circle of Life,
Come, dance and sing! ”
—Words and music by Kristopher Lindquist
The circle itself feels healing to me, familiar and meaningful to St. Hildegard’s for all of our years together. We’ve experienced years of transformation in our circles and so I naturally expect the circle of beads in the rosary to be full of life and healing. In the beginning those of us who were liturgists of St. Hildegard’s were instinctively drawn to the circle. We realized that sitting in pews wouldn’t work for the liturgies we were dreaming so we chose the parish hall—bare, yet spacious and flexible. We chose to arrange the chairs in a circle or oval creating an intimate space to share our lives and look into each other’s faces. We wanted room to dance and experimented with styles. We were blessed when Lila taught us sacred circle dances, some contemplative and quiet and others lively and celebratory. We enjoyed free-form movement in response to our Song of Celebration that was held by the circle. Years before we were called as a community, we gathered in smaller circles for transformative study and to share our lives and these transformative circles continue.
As a symbol the circle can mean wholeness, inclusion, the power of the female, goddess. It can symbolize Mother Earth, the sun, the universe. In our eyes a circle meant respect for a non-hierarchical wisdom, that each being offered something of value. I’ve been seeking daily prayers for Hildegardians to share and now the circle of rosary beads seems to fit in a way that other forms of prayer haven’t. We may want to fill the circle and pray the circle in a variety of ways but it may give shape to our prayers in a way that flows organically out of our life together.
When I pray around the circle I’m reminded of belonging to the Circle of Life and of being loved and embraced here no matter what. I’ve discovered that these prayers help me to embrace all of life with its joys and sorrows, its glory and devastation. I’m reminded of sitting in our circle for the Service of the Word, passing The Peace, and gathering close around our round Altar-Table for Holy Communion. For me the circle of the rosary is a sign of community where all of creation is welcome and honored, experienced locally and globally.
What is your experience of circle and of praying with circles?