The Core Expertise

Jenny made a comment on my earlier post about the restorative power of music, that I think nails it. Speaking of the transformative power of involvement in the arts, she says:

“Taken even further, it also threatens the need for specialists–if a community can get together and make music and art and tell stories to transform conflict, who needs lawyers or mediators to come in and “help” them navigate an externalized conflict resolution system?”

I hope you’ll read her entire comment (click on the comments under the post “Restorative Power of Music.”)

She underlines something I have been saying a lot lately: That the deepest expertise of the circle keeper is in not being an expert. By this I mean that the circle keeper has a deep, fundamental, abiding faith that people can bring forth what it is needed–the learning, the wisdom, the strategies. The circle is the most powerful container I have yet encountered for enabling people to achieve this. Circle keepers undo their own intentions when they function as therapists, teachers, gurus, social workers, subject matter experts, or any other function that is based on the belief that circle and its members come from a place of deficit.

I also appreciate her specifically linking this to music. I am part of a band that plays on monday nights at Pacific Zen Center(we’ve westernized some of the traditional zen chants). It is an expression of that center’s emphasis on the integration of zen, the arts, and life. I think our little band has just begun to scratch the surface of what this might mean. Jenny says,

“Methods that incorporate creativity, however,  immediately add an element of unpredictability, and are not easily categorized, studied, or molded into structures that can be recreated or outcomes that can be “guaranteed” in some predictive model.”

Just like life.

And I was wondering, when I was leading the playground circles with the K-3 students, “what would happen if I brought my mandolin?” And the circle when the kids wanted to sing… instead of discuss.

They know what they need. We need to listen.

Thanks Jenny!


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