I consider myself to be in collaboration with the universe. I feel most comfortable in the natural world. Crows follow me down the street. One of them squawks loudly if I have my head down. He seems to be annoyed if I am too insular and not noticing my surroundings. When I look up and thank him, he has an undeniable look of satisfaction at having reminded me he is there and to pay attention to my surroundings.
As we rush and push agendas, we lose that connection. If we belittle those who believe these things or other ways of knowing, we are left with dry, hard, cold “facts” or theories, when what the world desperately needs right now is to be responsive, to allow things to be more organic.
Truth is that I long for collaborations that use circles. I long for a world where we go as slow as the slowest person in the room, where those who are fast and efficient sit down and listen. Listen to the one who is most likely sitting on wisdom that never gets to come out because everything moves too fast for them, or because they are not willing to push their way into discussions.
As I write this, I think of Richard Wagamese and the circles I attended at the home he shared with his wife, Debra Powell. In his circles we were all equal and time became irrelevant. He would lead by sharing a story with us, a teaching tied to his own life and what was currently happening for him. He would be vulnerable, “just another foolish two-legged” as my dear friend and Elder Aline LaFlamme always says. He was not trying to be some guru who had reached enlightenment. This made it easier for us to share openly and honestly when the feather came around. But what struck me most was that unlike other gatherings I had attended, there was no need to get everything out in one go. He would pass the feather around until everyone had said everything they needed to say.
Having been in AA and many board meetings where if you’re lucky you get one chance to speak, it was a marvel to me that we were allowed to empty ourselves in this way. There was no need to rush. You had a chance to correct what you said earlier if someone said something after you that caused a shift in your thinking, or if you realized you had not expressed yourself well. There were no “gotcha” moments. We were in a fluid, responsive state and aware that each of us was learning. No one had all the answers but together we could sort things out with the assistance of our ancestors and the Creator. It is true we were not collaborating on any projects, but we were building community and assisting one another in bringing positive change into our lives. The circle became a touchstone that I still carry with me to this day.