I’m trying to count how many times each day that I find myself in a “Chewonki Circle”. I don’t know exactly what the number is.
Every weekday morning at 6:45, we gather in a circle under the white pine near the dinning hall to hear our “Plato” of the day read a tidbit of wisdom and then dismiss us to morning chores.
At mealtimes we form ten circles of seven people sitting around the table. On science field trip, our teacher Peter tells us to “make a nice big Chewonki circle”, then explains about the salt marsh, rocky intertidal, sand dunes… while we stand holding our yellow field journals listening.
For school meeting, all of us sit in a circle to contemplate, reflect on, or discuss whatever is on our minds.
I think there’s something to the name; there’s a lot inside those Chewonki circles.
They represent the equal parts we all have in this community; no one of us bears more weight than another. We are involved in all aspects of our community: we mop the same stairs we walk up on our way to class, we lead meetings, we sit next to teachers at meals, and we all really want to be here, we are all invested in making this semester what we hope it will be.
The circle is all-inclusive. With every “circle up!” comes “can you step back a little,” or “make room for everybody”. Living together can be tough: we’ve got to be willing to share responsibilities, space, or own truths with others. But living among this small, supportive group of people is so enriching, so rewarding.
It’s very satisfying to walk to breakfast and be able to say good morning to anyone, to sit on un upturned bucket shucking beans in the attic of the barn having a great conversation, to sit in a circle and see everyone and be seen by everyone. It takes honesty and a leap of faith to trust your community, to let yourself feel a part of the circle, and once you do, it’s so worth it.
San Diego, CA