Prospective first-time attendee expresses hesitance to attend:

Weeeeelllllllll, I would LIKE to come and check out the Wisdom Circle but after reading the charter and actually having time to come I'm not so sure I am ready to. I don't always feel comfortable being completely open with some of my friends let alone a circle of strangers!  Do you need a definite answer now?

Circle organizer responds:

First, thanks for reading and genuinely considering the charter.  I appreciate that.  Second, I'm glad that you mentioned your hesitation to be open, as it's an important issue.

I want to start by saying that this is an issue that we all struggle with to varying degrees.  The charter is sort of a format and direction where we want the circle to go.  It's an ideal, a challenge for each of us to aspire to.  You needn't do anything but show up and listen compassionately and without judgment to the others while experiencing the magic of the circle.  This is all that's required to be a part of the circle.

If you feel like just holding the stick for a minute or two when it comes to you, reflecting on your own silently, that's completely fine...and can even be more powerful than speaking.  That is, in fact, precisely what some people have chosen to do on occasion, myself included.  That is to say, you wouldn't be the first, and you won't be the last.  :-)  If, however, you feel comfortable sharing something of your personal experience after hearing the others, that's fantastic.

The more regular your attendance and the more you get to know the people in the circle and become comfortable with the format, the more you will grow to trust and feel safe with those around you...knowing implicitly that you won't be judged for anything you say.  You will come to feel that it's really ok to be who you really are...speak that, be supported in that, live that.  Your compassionate listening to the others when they talk sends them that message, encourages them to be more honest and real, and you will come to expect the same in return.  When you hear others disclose intimate feelings and experiences honestly, you will begin to notice that, deep down, they aren't all that different from you.  Thus, you will start to feel, over time, that there's really no part of yourself of which you need to be ashamed/embarrassed, or that you need to hide.  You will also come to realize that there is noTHING that you need to do  in order to be accepted and valued in this community.  Moreover, I can almost guarantee that you will be touched and inspired by their wisdom, courage and caring.

That's maybe the best I'm gonna do with words to convey to you what this community is about.  Why not just come and experience it?  :-)

One of the reasons for the charter is, in fact, to make sure that people who haven't attended the circle yet go through the very process which you're going through right now.  We've discussed this in the circle.  Obviously, if a stranger comes into the circle and people don't feel comfortable with him/her, then many will have a harder time being open, and everyone loses.  So, I work very hard, and in conjunction with the others, to keep the circle a safe and welcoming place for all.  It's a tight spot for me: wanting to preserve and deepen the trust and safety of the current circle; wanting to have it
expand and touch as many others as possible.

So, I use my own wisdom and intuition and am very selective in whom I consider "appropriate" to invite.  The other members are equally selective in their invitations.  This is not a party or class that I'm inviting you to, and I think that you are aware of how much time and caring I've put into well as how much it means to me.  I wouldn't have invited you if I didn't think that you would be receptive and open to such an experience, that you are a caring, compassionate, intelligent and open-minded person, and that you have a unique wisdom to share.  In short, I wouldn't have invited you had I thought that your presence would harm, detriment, or make the current circle less safe in any way.  In fact, I believe that you would be a wonderful asset which would make the circle even better than it is today.

Similarly, I care about you.  Neither would I have invited you if I thought that the experience would be in any way (physically, mentally, psychologically, spiritually) harmful, detrimental or unsafe for you...nor would I have invited you if I didn't think that you were in the right place to benefit from and truly enjoy this experience. Finally, these are wonderful people and I think you'll really like them (and they you :).

I'd also like to say that it won't be all strangers there.  You will know me.  And, even after your first circle, you will feel that you know others in a meaningful way...and may find new and special friendships formed from even your first circle.

The circle has some core members which are always there, but the remainder seems to vary depending on where/when it's held.  So, the circle is typically small and intimate.  It has varied from 3-12 people, averaging 5-6.

Finally, I think that you're already being honest and courageous in voicing this concern to me.  I feel even more confident now that I made the right choice in inviting you.  In a way, the circle has already started for you, and you're doing just fine.  :-)

In the end, of course, the choice is yours and, no, you don't have to let me know now.  I would like to know if you're coming before Sunday, tho.  Please call if you're still undecided or want to chat more about this.

Take care,