February 26th, 2018
How many times have I heard that call during this last week?
Usually, it’s been Bobby who has called all of us into the circle. We do that each time we start a walk. We do that when we pray before meals. We do that before and after ceremonies. We circle up before get into the vehicles to travel long distances. When in doubt, we get into a circle.
Bobby said today that we were gathering into a “sacred” circle. I think that is an accurate description. There is a feeling of equality while we stand together. Even though we have a couple people designated as leaders, there is no place of honor in a circle. A circle has no focal point, except for the center, and no one stands in the center. We are all on the periphery. We create the circle together. We are all necessary for it to exist. When we hold hands in prayer, we all become one.
I remember “forming up” when I was cadet at West Point. That was very different. The leader stood at the head of the formation, and everyone else faced him or her. A small formation was part of a larger one, and the members of the small group all looked in same direction toward the leader of the larger assembly. There was a rigid hierarchy. The emphasis was on order, and on everyone knowing their place.
Making a circle brings us together so that we can take care of business. Bobby tells us the plans for the day. We discuss the route for the walk. We find out where and when we will get our next meal. We hear about any problems that have occurred.
The circle isn’t just business. We get smudged. That happens when one of the group lights up a bundle of sage and then brings its smoke to bless every other person in the circle. Someone, usually Bobby, sings. He brings out his rattle and sings a traditional song of his tribe. These songs are holy. They cannot be recorded. We might drum while in the circle. We do things to draw our spirits closer together.
We become one.