Last Saturday I hosted a “Circle” gathering of Sisters and Associates at our house. Although Sinsinawa Dominicans use the word “circle” for these, generally monthly, meetings, each group’s circle seems to be one-of-a-kind with little in common with other circles other than we all tend to sit in circles. Circles have no canonical status; but from the way the members cling to them, it’s obvious that circles are important.
Theoretically, the circle I belong to has 17 members. But about 5 Associates and 10 professed Sisters usually show up for a gathering. Someone may be out of town. Another person may be sick. Someone else may just have a conflict for the date we’ve chosen. Individuals in our group are not necessarily close friends and may not often meet one another except at Circle gatherings where we snack a bit, pray, “check in”—meaning catch up on what’s going on in one another’s lives, what’s important, how each member is feeling about whatever’s happening—and then talk about some topic of common interest. This last part differs considerably from month to month. We may start with an article we’ve all read, work together in preparation for some element of a coming event such as this past spring’s Chapter. Maybe once a year, we substitute a purely social gathering for our other meetings.
But neither the composition of my circle nor the format of gatherings explains why our circle is so important to us. I think it’s the combination that works. There’s an element of comradery, a certain amount of intellectual stimulation, and the communal boost of praying together. Furthermore, although not composed of our everyday companions, ours is a circle of trust. These people know and care one for another.
Win Morgan, OP