Circle: my own version of “interfaith dialogue”

Three women sit around a table laden with cookies and candles. We are here to bare our souls and to connect to each other, to “Higher Power” and to our own inner wisdom. The only rule: nobody is here to fix anybody else.

This is my version of interfaith dialogue.

Wikipedia describes interfaith dialogue as:

“…cooperative, constructive and positive interaction between people of different religious traditions (i.e., “faiths”) and/or spiritual or humanistic beliefs… It is distinct from syncretism or alternative religion, in that dialogue often involves promoting understanding between different religions to increase acceptance of others, rather than to synthesize new beliefs.”

I used to divide the world into two camps: people who agreed with me, and people who I needed to convince. Many pointless arguments and a lot of humbling situations later, I’m no longer into proselytising; I get that we don’t need to synthesise our beliefs. Instead, I am learning to trust in the Divine – that inner place of goodness and knowing – in each of us.

What changed?

My values and principles used to be things that I adopted because my daddy held them or because they sounded smart. I had very little personal experience to back them up and they had no link to my inner wisdom. In fact, I had no idea inner wisdom even existed. Furthermore, I was so petrified that my worldview might be wrong, I made it my mission to convince the whole world of its validity. After all, if I could make you believe in it, maybe that would help me to believe too. I was all certainty on the outside, and all despair and doubt on the inside.

It turns out however, that the opposite of faith is not doubt. The opposite of faith is certainty. The more certain I pretended to be, the more I was lacking any faith in my values.

Working with Women of Spirit and Faith – and my experience of women’s circles in general – has taught me that every person has a different path. My job as a circle facilitator therefore is to provide a safe space where people can get quiet enough to listen to their own inner voice, a wisdom that might sound crazy to me or to you, but is exactly what that person needs to know in the moment. This takes a lot of faith – faith in people, in process and in Spirit – and requires that we let go of our certainty around what is right and what needs to happen.

So if I try to fix you, if I try to tell you that I know what you need, do stop me. Or just remind me that I don’t need to be afraid, and that it’s all going to be okay. Because really, when I try to tell you what to think, I’m just stuck in certainty again, and I need a little faith.


 Laura Paskell-Brown is a member of the core circle at Women of Spirit and Faith. When she’s not doing that, she edits the Divine Feminine blog, and tries to accept that she’s living with a lot of uncertainty. 

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