I love circles. They are my favorite shape, with spirals coming in a close second. I write important notes on circle-shaped paper.
I also love community. And strong, healthy community can often be found in circles. Restoration can be found in circles.
The San Francisco Unified School District created a manual with the Center for Restorative Processes: Teaching Restorative Practices with Classroom Circles, which I highly recommend to you. For two reasons:
- Although this manual was written for youth, consider what your congregation could be like if the adults participated in such circles. (If you really want your mind blown, imagine a new congregation planted using these circles! UU Community of Restoration…)
- Let it sink in that many of our youth and young adults participate in such programs at school and in other venues. They often come to our congregations equipped with mad skills that older adults didn’t have access to growing up. But we can if we turn to our youth and young adults to teach us and lead us. Make way for these gifts to be given and received.
The manual explains “Restorative Practices build community and can help set things right when the integrity of the community is challenged by harmful behaviors.” Who doesn’t want that in our religious communities? Now, the manual was written for school classrooms. It needs translation. If you are at all interested in translating this manual (and other such resources) into an explicitly Unitarian Universalist resource, please let me know: firstname.lastname@example.org!
Page 16 of the manual unpacks these guidelines.
Couldn’t your religious community use some restoration? Some tools for hard conversations? Counter-intuitively, I get excited when a hard, authentic conversation is about to be had, because if we remain open to that potential transformation, deep faith formation will happen. Please, go there. Release that power.