ripple in water with colors of red, gold, blue, purple

photo: Creative Commons (Wikimedia)

Who here has ever learned about the idea that each of us has a sort of invisible bubble around us – a bubble that helps us to know where the space of us and who we are ends, and the space of the world and everyone in it begins. Sometimes this is called our “personal space.” [Seek a show of hands.]

Join me, as we think about this roundness of space around us, in making a round space with your arms in front of you like this: [Palms facing you, open your fingers and weave the fingers of your two hands together and hold your arms in a round shape out in front of you.] This roundness reminds us of the wholeness, the fulness, the goodness of who we are, just as ourself. Take in a breath and acknowledge the goodness of who you are.

And now, I invite you to go get near the people whom you came with this morning. And if you came with just yourself, get a little closer to yourself. But if you came with others, get with them. [Give a moment for people to move as needed.]

And now, [you are still modeling the round form with your arms] we are going to do something simple, and yet really powerful and wonderful. We’re going to open up the circle of ourself [slowly move your hands apart and widen your arms] and we’re going to reach out for hands of other circles that are opening and we’re going to form a new, bigger circle. And some of you are going to form a circle anew with yourself…. This is a circle of friends, of family, maybe of neighbors. I invite you now to take a moment to acknowledge those in your circle… with your eyes, with your hearts, with your hands. Acknowledge the selves that make up this comfortable circle, the members of whom you know and feel comfortable with – your family, friends, neighbors. [Give a few moments for acknowledgement.]

And now, I’m going to invite you to stretch a little, … to prepare to reach a little beyond what’s easy and comfortable. And I believe you all can do this, because – remember – we are all together right now in the big circle that forms and holds this congregation. I’m going to invite you to find a place where your comfortable, known circle can do that simple but powerful thing: where it can open up. Give your circle an opening and seek another circle with an opening nearby and let your circles merge into a new, even bigger circle! [Give some time for hubbub and sorting out of circles.] And since I imagine you now have people in your circle whom you don’t know, take a moment to introduce yourselves in your circle. [Allow moderate time for this. It could be fairly “buzzy” with conversation.]

This circle you’re part of right now is full of so much possibility! Who knows what creativity, growing, learning, synergy, discovery could happen if this circle had a little more time to develop! Let’s take a moment to honor that. Acknowledge, again, with your eyes, your hearts, and your hands – the possiblities for newness and discovery that this circle contains – this circle you just formed right here, right now!

And think about that simple action which you have the power to take – to open up your circle to others! You can open it here in the UU, or with people outside the UU. And you have the power to notice openings in other people’s circles, and the freedom to join your circle with theirs and form a wholly new circle. What a special thing that is!


  1. Jennifer Galasso says:

    I used this reflection in the sanctuary at my church a few weeks ago and it went well. I got some great feedback afterwards and people appreciated the message behind this reflection. They also enjoyed getting out of their seats and moving around.

    A few things I learned: not everyone feels comfortable holding hands with others – and therefore it may be a good idea to include some alternative (non-touching) hand gestures which would still allow these people to participate without making them feel uncomfortable. Also, I noticed that some people will naturally “jump ahead” and anticipate your next directions and then assume they know the final outcome. In my case, there were people who assumed we would end with one final large circle including everyone in the sanctuary…. so just be ready to try and hold their attention and don’t be surprised if they do their own thing anyway.

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