Bob Stilger, a steward and member of The Powers of Place Initiative has been in Japan since April. He is there on behalf of The Berkana Institute, New Stories and the ALIA Institute. What's he doing there, likely exposing himself to excessive radiation? He's expanding the circles.
Most recently, he invited sixty people to a three day gathering in a safe and beautiful place. His team has made numerous trips to Fukushima where, as he says, "land is life" and they don't know when the water will be drinkable and the soil safe for growing food. People tell Bob, if they hear the word gambare [gahm-bar-a] one more time they will go mad. Gambare means "do your best." A half a million people from that northern area are either without jobs or homes or both. When tornadoes dip down with crushing force and so many people in our midwest and southern states find themselves now without homes or jobs or both, the circle widens.
What a gift to read Bob's e-diary and his first hand account of how he gathered fifteen people from Fukushima--many youngsters--to join sixty Japanese people of all ages, for circle dialogues. "Three days later we had a deeply connected field of people who had stepped into a new relationship with themselves and each other. It is always magical when this happens and it happens most of all because we yearn to be with each other. In the evening of the first day one of the women from Fukushima said today was fun because we all cried together. Another spoke of "listening so deeply that I, myself, almost disappeared." They talked about what comes next.They felt hope deep in their bones.
When I read Bob's diaries I think of Theodore Roethke's poem "I Knew a Woman". I, however, know a man "who moved in circles and the circles moved."