By Carmelle Nitereka
“The world does not need to be saved, it needs to be loved – that’s what will save it.” – unknown
The Restorative Justice Workshop and circle process was a beautiful experience. It started with two early mornings, but the warm tea (I had excessive amounts) and the welcome we received made it more bearable to have had rolled out of the comfort of my bed. The first day of the workshop, I felt a sense of wonder for what was to come- I felt grace in a circle of strangers. To paraphrase our insightful Restorative Justice facilitator, Jamie, whoever is in the circle is meant to be there. And I felt it, there was synchronicity within the room.
While the concept of restorative justice was not completely new, the workshop experience was. Unlike criminal justice, which implies that an infraction has been committed and warrants punishment, restorative justice implies that there is a hurt or brokenness and a need for healing. The process is facilitated through peacemaking circles, derived from indigenous traditions that have been adopted to offer safe healing spaces. Quanshay (a.k.a old wise soul) reminded us that the circle is a sacred place. For the duration of the training we sat in that sacredness, offering pieces of ourselves to one another.
The mindfulness of peacemaking circles is something I would like to cultivate even when I am not physically in circle. Something I appreciate about Priscilla is how she naturally exudes that mindfulness; she has a gentle way of inviting people in her circle. Circles can draw people into a community; it unveils our unique and collective brokenness.
Jamie fervently believes that one could never be asked to leave a circle. I think thats powerful, it goes against the grain; even the most resistant spirit is fragile and it resonated with me to know that circles let people heal in their own time.
How can I invite people in circle? That’s a real question I want to keep exploring.