It’s the end of September already, the time for coming together again in community after a lazy summer of long walks and swimming and other isolated pursuits. For me, even though I no longer work or teach, September is still a time of new beginnings. One of the most joyful for me is our new Wellspring community – three full groups this year – which met for the first time at a Saturday retreat a week and a half ago. Last night our small group met for the first regular gathering, nine of us together around the chalice, embarking on the journey of getting to know one another and our own souls.
The reading for our first session was A Hidden Wholeness, by Parker Palmer, a book full of understanding and compassion for the soul and the conditions under which the soul can emerge. After reading and re-reading this book for several years now, I find something new and meaningful to think about every time. This year, it’s Palmer’s chapter on “Spiritual DNA” that grabs me. Here’s a quote: “We are born with a seed of selfhood that contains the spiritual DNA of our uniqueness – an encoded birthright knowledge of who we are, why we are here, and how we are related to others.” He describes his granddaughter’s unique qualities that were evident from the time of her birth and continued to develop as she grew. My youngest granddaughter has always been exactly herself, intent and active, from the time she was born. Now twenty months old, she runs and climbs but can also sit with her mother and look at books for a long time. She is her own person, independent and loving, and it’s a joy to watch her unfolding, becoming a larger and more capable version of this unique person she’s always been.
For me, the beginning of our Wellspring group has that same feeling of anticipation, of watching what will unfold. We come together as a unique set of people, at a time in each one’s life that holds its own joy and suffering. Each of us brings gifts and perspectives that contribute to the whole in ways that can never be replicated exactly in any other group. The group itself has a unique “seed of selfhood” that will emerge over the course of the year. The joy for me is in watching this group take shape as we move forward on our spiritual journey together. Becoming a circle of trust is complicated and requires attentiveness to our way of being together, but I know we can do it.
Here’s what Parker Palmer says:
A circle of trust consists of relationships that are neither invasive nor evasive. In this space, we neither invade the mystery of another’s true self nor evade another’s struggles. We stay present to each other without wavering, while stifling any impulse to fix each other up. We offer each other support in going where each needs to go, and learning what each needs to learn, at each one’s pace and depth.
I have faith that we have within this group all the resources we need to create a safe space for our souls to emerge. It is a great gift.